Entering tonight’s game Hornets starting center Emeka Okafor was declared injured for 1-3 per the team doctors. It is a major blow and Jake has the details of how it effects the New Orleans lineup. In place of Emeka, Monty Williams placed Jason Smith at the starting center position. Expectations were low, no one expected Smith to come in and put up the offensive numbers that he did. On the Hornets first possession they went to David West in the post, he missed but Jason cut and hustled to get the tip in. It’s this sort of effort that goes to show you how hard a guy like Smith works. While defensively he’s a certain drop of from the aforementioned Okafor he is capable of holding down the fort on the offensive end.
While the score shows the Wizards only lost by 8 it was a lot greater than that. The only solid performer for them was Nick Young and we’ll get to his performance in a moment.
A Chris Paul jumper and steal and this one was in the books. Let’s head over as we beat the two game schneid…
Chris Paul: A-
Every night is indeed a battle for a point guard on an individual basis as Chris Paul once said. The one was no different as John Wall came to town to battle the league’s best. Wall has received a lot of hype, but the one legged CP ran rings around the number one draft pick, dear lord did he. While the stats won’t jump out at you Paul is showing his skills in other lesser known areas. This year defense has been his calling card and tonight Wall could get nothing going, he finished with 4 points on 10 shots (Yeesh!), 7 assists on 3 turnovers and 6 boards. Meanwhile the potential MVP had himself 15 points on 9 shots, 9 assists on 2 turnovers, 5 rebounds and a couple of steals. All around fantastic.
Marco Belinelli: F
I’m not sure how many “F” grades I’ve handed out this season but you can say it’d be one or two. Marco Belinelli, for the past month, has been down right awful. He’s shot 39% from three (after shooting 45% in October), averaged barely 8 points and contributed almost nothing else of value. He makes Nick Young look like god.
Trevor Ariza: B+
A workman’s night for Trevor Ariza, no wait, an efficient night. It’s not to often I’ll get to say that between weeks but tonight he really showed he’s working his way into what the offense demands of him. He is still his stout self on defense, but it seems over the past couple of weeks Trevor has finally figured it out.
“What?” might you ask. Well now Ariza knows it’s either catch and shoot in rhythm, catch and drive and if none of those options are there look for a post up or pass to Chris Paul. It isn’t all that complicated but it’s taken a while for him to finally get it.
David West: B-
Quite a poor game from David West, but it can be excuse somewhat due to the win. It seems over the past three games West has lost his step. His jumper isn’t falling and in turn he works particularly hard to get to the basket. I know he only had 3 turnovers tonight, but every single one of them was when he tried to drive but lost he ball as someone knocked it loose.
Jason Smith: A
It was a giant gap that stared every fan in the face reading the Hornets starting lineup before the game. People perhaps looking in on this game may have laughed a little at the fact that Jason Smith would be the starting center for the New Orleans Hornets. But it was a night for unexpected events and Smith was the provider. He hit all of his first 7 field goals using a means of driving, cutting, dunking, shooting, hustling and tipping in any opportunity that presented itself. Defensively we could argue that he still has a long ways to go before ever covering up his weaknesses (watch out for OKC, uh-oh). But, let’s ignore that for the moment because this was his career night finishing up with 20 points on 11 shots, 5 rebounds and 2 steals. The most impressive thing? He did it in 25 god damn minutes…wow.
Wild Card Bench Player, Marcus Thornton: B
No one from the bench really stood out tonight so I’d like to briefly talk about Buckets for a moment just because we all love him and he’s a very hot topic. Marcus seems to have won over the approval of Head Coach Monty Williams. After not attending voluntary defensive off season workouts, Thornton has progressed in time played and points produced. His defense has come on too as he’s taking more risks and playing within the system. If Marco continues his bad funk don’t be surprised if the Louisiana kid is a starter by the back-end of the All-Star break.
- I want Nick Young. He is so good, his defense is okay he is one of the better defenders on the Wizards (108 points per 100 possessions). Still, I want him on the Hornets.
- Crowd attendance was 13,921. Not great but it was raining and the Wizards, so somewhat excusable. \
- Next up is OKC and the Hornets are stuck in the snow…yuck…
Post Game Quotes
- “I didn’t expect that kind of production from Jason” -Head Coach Monty Williams
- “We’re going to ask him to play big for us, especially because we know he’s capable of it. It’s good to see a player develop the way Jason’s developing, especially after maybe not getting the opportunity [to play more] in Philadelphia.” -Willie Green
Final Word: Smithers (Yeah that’s right you heard it here first).