Everyone take a breath because we have finally limped to the All-Star Break. Tonight, the Hornets lost to the Portland Trailblazers 103-96. Jason Smith started over Aaron Gray after the later had a poor game last night. The game looked like it was going to be ugly early with Portland running out to a 35-26 lead. The defense looked shaky and allowed far too many alley-oops (1 is enough). The defense started sinking in towards the hoop and that left the Blazer’s shooters open on the perimeter.
But the Hornets settled down, started playing some defense that was reminiscent of earlier in the season and held Portland to only 35 points over the next two periods…and then they collapsed again in the fourth quarter. This stat sums it up best: Chris Paul didn’t take a shot in the final period. I think everyone, fans included, could use this week off. Let’s do this…
The Hans Gruber Villain of the Game Award
LaMarcus Aldridge. The All-Star snub continued the form which made him the Western Conference Player of the week. He had 34 points on 18 shots. I’d love to see David West take him down in a boxing match.
-The word of the day: Finishing. The Hornets have struggled to finish at the rim the past couple of games—Marcus Thornton. Marcus just goes 100 mph to the rim and just runs into a wall. He has got to make a better move to finish the layup. He also had a missed dunk(!) and had a charge. The reason Monty Williams gives him such few minutes is not because of his defense but because he is a very reckless player. It was a very forgettable 5 point night for him.
-Jarrett Jack had a decent night going for 12 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. He was cutting hard to the basket and was very active in the offense. He’s taken a large amount of (deserved) criticism but he has scored 10+ in each of the last five games.
-You can see why Willie Green has been starting with 24 points on 11 for 19 shooting. His consistent shot has brought a large degree of stability to the offense.
-David West, thank you for being the rock of this offense. He had 27 points on 18 shots. His defense on Aldridge was much better after the first quarter and was one of the reasons the Hornets led for a chunk of the game.
-Aaron Gray played 2 minutes and finished +7 on the night. He had a great offensive rebound and pass to Trevor Ariza for an open 3-pointer.
-Ariza had a great night. He was all over the court grabbing 9 rebounds, dishing 6 assists and scoring 14 points. His defense was sharp and he closed out well on the perimeter and had 3 steals. Just learn how to finish at the rim a little better.
-Chris Paul. I’m not really going to go into it tonight. What is there even to say at this point? In a close game he does not have one shot in the final quarter?!? He has said in interviews and on Twitter that he knows he needs to take over game—yet he doesn’t. The Hornets’ leader needs to step up.
But we made it. It wasn’t easy the past two weeks but we survived. Go out for a nice meal, Mexican or Chinese sounds delicious, take a sick day from work or school, sleep in and enjoy the weather, hopefully it’s nice outside, watch the dunk contest and All-Star Game. We’ll still be here keeping track of the Hornets for you.
I have an idea for a new feature and I need some input. I want to know who your least favorite player in the NBA. If you have a reason why that’s great but will not be required. Let me know in the comments below or on twitter (@NOLAJake. Follow me!).