The Hornets Face Tough Tests In Home-Stand: Portland Among Them

Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets has to believe in Carl Landry

The New Orleans Hornets face the playoffs, it’s right in their faces. Chris Paul is down one David West, but he still has a talented team willing to fight and claw their way into the playoffs. We all know that Emeka Okafor has never been there and he says he’s hungrier than ever and won’t leave anything to chance.

It seems to Hornet fans that if New Orleans is not only make the playoffs but challenge a team in a series their going to have to get even bigger contrabutions from other players than before. This final series of games at home is the barometer for our success. There is no excuses, no reason to hold back and be complacent, it’s time to dig deep and give it every thing you have. You know the same old High School bull-crap routine to motivate players.

At the end of the day it’s just down to whether or not guys like Chris Paul actually want it or not. We’ve seen guys like Jarrett Jack and Aaron Gray pull their own weight (yeah I know it’s a big load). But it’s the leader, CP3 that will determine the team’s success. Lines of 22-10-5 are great, but they are not dominating. Not once have I ever seen Chris Paul dominate for four entire quarters, both scoring and setting up his team-mates.

If your scratching your head going, “Hold up James, this isn’t all on Chris Paul, let’s focus on other aspects,” you’re quite wrong. This is all on him, whether he knows it or not his scoring is more valuable (at times) than his passing. Seeing CP ring off 5 straight baskets gets team-mates “juiced.” They move more, look for the ball and are generally more excited.

Looking into this upcoming home-stand there are teams that might prove a problem in a Chris Paul domination (which in my view, hasn’t been done yet, I don’t count a Sacramento Kings game as one…).

Portland Trail Blazers

On Wednesday playoff seeding kicks into fifth gear. The Trail Blazers and Lamarcus Aldridge are just one single game in front of the Hornets, holding the sixth seed. We all know how that Lakers game turned out, so pulling out the win here is vital. Andre Miller is a capable point-guard who frustrates the living hell out of opponents. But Chris Paul needs to have that mentality, that insanity that makes him feel and act as the best player on the floor. He is better than Miller, but why let up and not make the most of this matchup?

Lamarcus Aldridge will have his way with Carl Landry, so I expect Emeka Okafor to do much of the defensive work. We can only hope he does a decent job of slowing him down, because L.A. is one scary dude. Nicolas Batum is on fire, and Brandon Roy is playing his part. The Blazers are a tough outfit who worry me. But it’s not as if they are infinitely better. We need to “play free” as Monty Williams says, in order to get the victory.

Memphis Grizzlies

A red-hot team, determined to make the playoffs. I know, it’s what I’d like to be saying about the Hornets, but actually this is the Memphis Grizzlies. Down one Rudy Gay the Grizz have put out hearty efforts night in and night out. They just recently beat the Boston Celtics and continue to show up more talented teams. Zach Randoplh is a worry along with Marc Gasol, it seems like a lot of teams the Hornets play in their final regular season games will rely apon an Emeka Okafor–Aaron Gray frontline. Last time these teams met Chris Paul was ballin’. Let’s hope that continues.

Indiana Pacers

It’s a shame to call this the “easiest” game left on the schedule because in reality it really is not. The Pacers just beat the Celtics thanks in large part to Roy Hibbert’s productive night. Darren Collison relishes the opportunity to play his former mentor and it’s going to be one tough game. It just doesn’t look like things get any easier, the Hornets must be hungry.

Houston Rockets

These boys from the mid-west sure as hell won’t go away. After it seemed like the Rockets were out of the playoffs for all money, they’ve rallied back to be 2 games out of the 8th spot. Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry having been running this red hot rocket of an offense all the way to the 3rd best. They play with a gaudy pace and put the ball in the basket with incredible efficiency. What’s turned this team around though is their defense. After starting out the season in a very meager position the Rockets have made adjustments and brought in some players capable of defending the perimeter.

The Hornets blew a lead last time these teams met, and Chris Paul was outplayed by Lowry (yet again). The Hornets need more out of CP this time around.

Phoenix Suns

Revenge is a dish best served cold, it’s a bit hard if you’re a Phoenix Sun to assert that, but it’s what they’ll be looking for when the teams finally met for the Hornets second last home game (last of the home stand). We all know the story with Phoenix, stop the three point shooters and stop…err…Gortat? Yeh, he’s killed New Orleans every time he’s played them, but stopping Jared Dudley, Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Channing Frye is imperative.

These guys kill us every time we play them. Please for the love of god get the Hornets a scouting report!

Summary

So I know it seems like I picked on Chris Paul a bit, but that Lakers game either had him tired physically, emotionally or both. I’m not sure where he’s at but it’s been plaguing my mind. I just hope that CP doesn’t see David West’s injury as the end. He needs to play like the best player on the court, not the seventh. Every night, every minute, every possession. Score first, ask questions later.

Let’s kick it into gear for the 2011 NBA playoffs.

Tags: Houston Rockets Indiana Pacers Memphis Grizzlies New Orleans Hornets Phoenix Suns Portland Trail Blazers

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