After a tough week of basketball for the New Orleans Hornets things weren’t getting any easier when they headed to Orlando to take on the Magic and Dwight Howard. Down Emeka Okafor the Hornets had to try and contain the big-man any way that they could. The story of the night however, was not guarding Howard, but New Orleans’ hot shooting in the first half and a big fourth quarter finish. In the first half the Hornets dropped 61 points on the Magic and received big contributions from role players including Jarrett Jack, Aaron Gray and Willie Green (a Hornets career best).
I’ve maintained throughout my commentary that teams don’t win games on the back of one or two players. They win games based on the 4 or 5 other guys that support them. Tonight was an example of how role players heavily swing the game. The Magic, a notorious 3-point shooting team, struggled from deep, connecting on just 5 of 21 shots.
Role players are the key to victory.
The game ended on a sequence of odd events. David West had a couple of free-throw attempts to put the game back out to 4 with 21 seconds left, but missed one. The Magic (who are one of the best out-of-bounds 3 point teams) turned the ball over as Hedo Turkoglu threw the ball out of bounds. Chris Paul then nailed two free-throws to ice the game.
Head over the jump for your recap people!
- Let’s start with the outrageous play from our own Willie Green. Tonight was a career night for Green in a Hornets uniform as he dropped 24 points on 20 shots. He was aggressive and tried to get to the basket as often as he could. New Orleans is a notorious jump-shooting team, so seeing this from one of our role players if pleasurable to watch.
- Jarrett Jack was the other story tonight contributing with 13 points on 6 shots. We’ve been saying for a while now that if Jack can improve his consistency that the bench might be an okay unit. An addition to Jack’s play was my countryman David Andersen who dropped 10 points on 7 shots. Go back and watch the game where Andersen schooled Anderson on some tricky post-moves that resulted in a pretty fadeaway, nice!
- Trevor Ariza appears to be the backbone of this defense. Even though he stank on offense he changed one thing that was lacking, 3-point defense. I don’t believe it is any coincidence that the Magic have one of their worst 3-point shooting nights against an Ariza led Hornets, and the Nets had one of their best against an Ariza-less team.
- David West should have been an All-Star. His defensive rebounding tonight was spectacular and his box-outs (where did that come from) were superb. He finished with 17 points on 13 shots, 17 rebounds (14 defensive), 4 assists and a steal.
- I know I continue to bitch and moan about Chris Paul‘s lack of aggressiveness. Tonight however he seemed a little bit more intent to get “his.” He still only shot 11 shots which is something I am not happy about, but it’s nice to see that he was more mobile tonight than before.
- Aaron Gray is our backup center. It sounds awful, but Gray has been doing a great job of working with Chris Paul. It’s amazing to see how players improve when playing around CP. (By the way his PER has gone from 9 to 13.5 over the span of his starting minutes).
- Monty Williams said before the game he was going to monitor Trevor Ariza’s minutes closely. That didn’t happen at all as Ariza played 40 minutes, most of any Hornets starter.
- The fact that Marcus Thornton continues to ride the pin has me in two minds. Either one, he’s going to be traded as the Magic commentators “hilariously” suggested, or two, he’s part of Topherp33′s consipracy of signing him to a lesser contract.
- The Magic commentators were pretty lackluster. I mean they are bias, but to a whole different level. Every call that went against them was so wrong and they completely ignored wrong calls that went in their favor. I guess they aren’t as bad as ours though…
- I admit it, I’m an idiot for suggesting we keep Sasha Pavlovic...
- The Orlando Arena seems nice, but it was awfully quiet…
Next up is the Chicago Bulls at home tomorrow night. The big storyline will be Chris Paul versus Derrick Rose, but a win here would mean the world heading into the All-Star break. Plus we need to recover from that losing streak.
Final Word: Winning!