Well, that felt good. After losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves twice this season, the Hornets finally got some revenge. In both of those games the Wolves came out shooting an absurd percent from 3-point range, hitting 11 in each game. Tonight, that was not the case. The defense continued its sharp form from the Clipper game and the Hornets cruised to an easy 95-81 win.
David West was not with the team due to a death in the family, so Jason Smith got the start. The biggest news was that Emeka Okafor returned to the starting lineup and newly acquired Carl Landry was on the bench, but the Hornets defense stole the show. They held the Wolves to 40% shooting from the floor and just 25% from 3-point range. It was a drastic turnaround from the previous two games. Really, it was just an easy win for the Hornets. Let’s do this…
The Has Gruber Villain of the Game Award
Nobody/nothing really deserves this award tonight so we’re going to give it to…Sebastian Telfair. I know he didn’t play tonight, but I went to a themed party last night and was given a Celtics Telfair jersey to wear. I felt like a fool. So welcome to the prestigious club Sebastian, no girls talked to me because of you.
-First and foremost let’s send David West and his family our condolences.
-Glad to have you back, Emeka Okafor. He looked great defensively, clogging the lane and altering shots (plus 3 blocks!). His conditioning is a little poor right now, but that will come back with time. And what a pretty running hook to open the scoring in the 3rd quarter.
-The difference Emeka makes is monumental. He protects the paint and the rim extremely well. The team defense looked tremendous. The Hornets had 12 steals, 9 blocks and forced 19 turnovers.
-Chris Paul had a nice game, but nothing spectacular. He didn’t need to be at the top of his game tonight given that the final result was never really in doubt. He finished with 17 points on 13 shots, 8 assists and +15.
-I like Willie Green starting. I don’t know if he can keep this up but his consistency is very nice.
-Aaron Gray set some great screens tonight. His stat line was quiet (4 points and 5 rebounds) but he was fighting for boards and had an incredibly athletic play near the end of the first quarter to break up a fast break pass. I like him coming off the bench to spell Emeka and play against teams second units. He finished +12 tonight, only behind CP3.
-Better game by Jarrett Jack. He finished with 13 points, making it the 7th straight game in double figures. He didn’t turn the ball over like he normally does and even had 4 steals.
-I have no idea how Trevor Ariza put up 18 points on 13 shots. I thought nearly every non-3-pointer he took looked terrible. Someone explain this to me please. Other than that, he played great defense.
-Let’s not forget Carl Landry. The newest Hornet had 4 points and 5 rebounds. Not a Melo-esque debut with his new team, but consider that he has only spent about an hour with his new teammates and coaches. Let’s give him some time to learn the offense more and mesh with the team before we judge him. But you can see how he attacks the paint and how important that will be to the team in this stretch run and playoffs.
-I have to mention this (and I think this is well know in New Orleans area) but the CST coverage has got to be the worst in the NBA. The announcers (I don’t even know their names I pay so little attention to them) are just clueless. They went ON AND ON AND ON about how Landry is a great rebound. They were making him out to be like Dwight Howard. Did they not get the memo that rebounding has been one of the biggest criticisms of Landry? They also kept talking about how he can play at the 3. In both Houston and Sacramento, Landry never played small forward.
Nice to see the defense looking sharp again; time to keep it up against the Rockets on Sunday. Again, let’s extend a warm welcome back to Emeka Okafor and a warm welcoming to Carl Landry.