Through three quarters the New Orleans Hornets dominated the game. They controlled the tempo and forced the Denver Nuggets to play a slow ball game which they don’t do very well. The big storyline was that Carmelo Anthony had only 8 points the entire game, he only made his first field goal in the third quarter. The defense played him terrifically all night, sure the Nuggets had 8 offensive rebounds but New Orleans was again able to control that tempo.
In the fourth quarter the Hornets had a 12 point lead which was diminished to just 2 with 4 minutes to go. This was thanks in large part to the god awful refereeing that called 3 consecutive fouls on Chris Paul. It wasn’t just these fouls it was the fact the referees called the Hornets for offensive foul after offensive foul then proceeded to call blocks on the other end. It was appalling.
That aside the game was one that should have been put away long before the end of the 4th quarter. CP3 had five fouls and was reinserted into the lineup to finish the game. He played tentatively yet was able to make things happen for New Orleans to prevail.
Tough win, but it was a harder than the scoreline makes it seem.
Chris Paul: B+
Tonight Chris Paul tried to act the scorer dropping 20 points on 13 shots. I’d much rather see Paul take 13 shots than the six he had against the Lakers. Denver does a great job of always hassling Paul and it showed as he turned it over 4 times (5 fouls too). The great thing to watch tonight was that CP got his points in a variety of ways. He pulled up for jumpshots, drove to the basket with the pass fake and drew contact for the “And-One.” It’s the type of variety that has been lacking for a long while even if it was only 20 points.
Marco Belinelli: B
The Italian swingman didn’t play all that much (25 minutes) and didn’t really stand out all that much. It appears that his three-point stroke is back but he only took one three pointer tonight. Still I’d rather see him take one smart shot than 7 bad ones.
Trevor Ariza: B+
Quietly and I say this with the utmost of caution, Trevor Ariza is finding his groove. The first half was where Ariza did his thing getting 12 points on 9 shots, had 7 rebounds, and an assist. He still takes some dumb shots but he is trying to adjust his game.
David West: A
With Kenyon Martin out of the lineup tonight had to of had David West salivating. He then decided to drop 19 points on 15 shots, 5 assists and 8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. At times David had to play Carmelo Anthony one on one and did a spectacular job (poking the ball out twice and nearly getting the steal). This could very well be West’s best individual as a professional basketball player.
Emeka Okafor: B+
Nene played 28 minutes, how many did Emeka Okafor play? You guessed it, 28. It appeared that whenever the Denver Nuggets bigman was out so to was Okafor and vica versa. At one point in the game the Hornets went with a small ball lineup and the Nuggets punished them through Al Harrington. For the life of me I couldn’t understand why Emeka, David or Jason Smith were not on the floor, it was a terrible lineup for Monty Williams. Still in limited time the Hornets bigman finished with an efficient 9 points on 9 shots, 13 rebounds and an assist.
Wild Card Grade, Jarrett Jack: A
Rohan over At The Hive wrote an article on the slow progression of Jarrett Jack. I was heavily sceptical because of the woeful bench play by the Hornets. Tonight however had me convinced that over the long term Jarrett Jack had what it takes to run the second unit. Jack’s shot was working tonight, he dropped 11 points on 7 shots, had a couple of dimes and looked thoroughly calmed over the duration of his time on the court (22 minutes). I hope that not only he but the rest of the bench looks to improve (Willie Green contributed heavily with 12 points on 10 shots).
Tonight was a good win for the team, it seemed that we looked the better outfit for the majority of the game. Except for the slight (could have been major) hiccup in the fourth I was very impressed with the way we played. No use pondering on this any longer than it should because up next is the Orlando Magic who are on an 8 game winning streak.
Final Word: Resilient