After a disastrous and embarrassing night against the Memphis Grizzlies the New Orleans Hornets showed fight and determination that wasn’t previously there. While head coach Monty Williams won’t be proud of the bench’s lackadaisical effort in the fourth quarter, he will be proud of the starters and their complete effort for three-quarters.
Everything started with Trevor Ariza. His offensive night was one of his better ones. It’s something that we rarely see from the swing-man. For every game like this, there are 12 others that are not so. Let’s stick to the positives though. In addition to Ariza there was Emeka Okafor and Chris Paul. The way they worked in the pick and roll was reminiscent to the first Miami Heat game. It was beautiful to watch.
It was especially pleasing to watch Paul recover from a disastrous night a few nights before. He was aggressive, looking for his shot and trying to score. He must have read that his scoring is more valuable to this team than his passing.
All in all a good night, but consistency is what we are after and until this team is winning in bunches then I’ll refrain from making any bold predictions come playoff time.
- Carl Landry is finding his niche with the team. He’s tough and has some aggressive post moves so it’s no surprise he is fitting in nicely with the team. The Tooth finished with 18 points on 9 shots (!), 8 rebounds and an assist.
- If Aaron Gray didn’t foul like his pay-check was dependent on it he would be a very serviceable big-man. He sets nice screens (when they aren’t fouls), does a great job grabbing rebounds (when they aren’t fouls) and is very active around the basket. I think what bugs most anti-Aaron Gray fans is the fouls, when he doesn’t foul then he usually plays well. Tonight he finished with 8 points on 5 shots, 3 rebounds (2 offensive) in 14 minutes.
- Jarrett Jack was terrific tonight despite the fact his jump-shot wasn’t falling. Drawing fouls is the only way to compensate for poor shooting and he did a terrific job of doing that. He finished with 11 points on 6 shots (2-6 from the field), 2 assists and 2 steals.
- Willie Green is just terrible when it comes to selection. While for most of the season he’s been terrific in hitting that mid-range jumper, it is statistically speaking the toughest (and lowest value) shot in basketball. When it isn’t falling his game completely falls apart. I don’t mind him driving to the basket, I don’t mind him taking a jumper off the curl. What I don’t like is him dribbling the ball in the one space for 15 seconds before he realizes there is a shot clock and he has to do something.
- Quincy Pondexter just couldn’t find his shot tonight going 1-6 from the field. While most of the shots were in rhythm he has to hit them if he wants to be a contributor to this team.
- Umm…can the folks in New Orleans get to the next game and make some playoff noise. The boys really need them.
Next up is the Houston Rockets and if the Hornets can remain consistent, bring the same intensity and rebounding, they secure a playoff birth. Hopefully that is all the incentive they need to get the win.
Final Word: A-reez-a