Entering tonight’s game the Hornets were in the seventh seed and two games ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies. With a win they would jump the Blazers for the sixth seed and be just a half game behind Denver for the fifth seed. The Sacramento Kings meanwhile, were coming off a back-to-back against the Spurs (which they lost) and continued their long road trip. The Kings never went away punishing the Hornets throughout with their size, strength and hot shooting. Without their playmaker Tyreke Evans and point-guard Beno Udrih it seemed frustrating to fans that Sacramento was still in the game right up until the fourth quarter.
Then we have Chris Paul. In the fourth quarter the former MVP candidate put up 13 points, 4 assists and a single rebound to show that he can still produce. His jumper was falling and he was looking for it time and time again. It’s not to say he wasn’t aggressive but he was looking to score.
The big 18-2 run early in the final period kicked the Hornets lead out to 17 and the Kings were no longer within range to come back.
A nice win for New Orleans as they have now won 4 of their last 5, they are now in the sixth seed with a number of tough upcoming games.
Let’s make the jump…
- The stand-out tonight was Chris Paul, he had one of his best games of the season. Now, I know what you are thinking, “Who is he going up against?” Yeah, no one really. But plenty of times Paul has had a great matchup in his favour, only for him to shy away and have a stinker. Tonight he stepped up and did his thing and it’s quite relieving. He was finding team-mates, pressing the fast/half break. He was truly energized out there. The great thing to see was that he fed Carl Landry numerous times. I think Landry now might realize that he’s going to get a lot of looks if he works down-low, so be prepared. The final line for Paul was a season high 33 points on 21 shots, 15 assists on 2 turnovers, 7 rebounds and 5 steals, what a night.
- A stellar night for David West, even if he fouled out of the game. His jumper was falling and Paul fed him often for it. His final line was 25 points on 18 shots, 9 rebounds and 3 steals. The disappointing thing about Dee Dubya was that he could of easily of had 15 rebounds. Jason Thompson hounded him time and time again. Once Okafor returned to the lineup the defensive glass was cleaned up somewhat, but good lord we need another rebounder because West does not cut it sometimes.
- It was great to see Marcus Thornton return to New Orleans, he had himself a nice game dropping 25 points on his former team. I’ll take the win any day but you can bet this was a special moment for him.
- To bring up Carl Landry again he was essential off the bench for New Orleans. I noted in the second quarter when we were up 40-36 that if we take his 10 points away we are in all sorts of strife. A bench spark is needed every night and with Jarrett Jack, Willie Green and Carl Landry it should be expected that one of them will give the team some bench juice.
- Many, like me, still criticize our shooting guard position. With Marcus Thornton back in the building those same people would be scrutinizing every move made by the Hornets guards. Marco Belinelli and Willie Green combined to score 20 points on 14 shots, which is something.
- Quincy Pondexter had a nice little spurt of offensive production with a nice spin move and another cut to the basket.
- Emeka Okafor really hurt the Hornets tonight. Not because he played bad (well he kind of did) but because he was fouling at every instance on the court. Now some of the calls were downright terrible, but the fact remains that Okafor continued to pick up crappy fouls which kept him on the sidelines. When he returned in the fourth things tightened up and he registered a number of self-esteem-crushing blocks.
- Not bad stuff really, but Demarcus Cousins lit us up, again! When he sets his feet for the jumper it’s money. When he gets good post position, it’s money. When he runs the fast break he thunders home dunks. I know people are in love with Blake Griffin, but my favourite rookie is Cousins. Not for his off the court persona, but his on the court performances.
- Trevor Ariza continues his crappy-ness. He seems out of rhythm and this groin strain may be bothering him. He needs to get re-adjusted working for loose balls, offensive rebounds and off-ball movement.
- New little award to give out each game. Join us on twitter for game-days and give me your thoughts throughout proceedings and you could receive a shout-0ut on the site. Tonight’s Twitter Award goes to… @saints_fans . Go and check out the tweets, they are good one’s. Here’s a little taste:
Next up is the Denver Nuggets on Monday, a big game with playoff implications. If the Hornets can somehow pull out the win they will jump into the fifth seed (I believe). The Nuggets are actually playing better without Carmelo Anthony, because, well, they have more talent. They are also well coached so we have to bring our game.
Final Word: Christopher