Tonight the New Orleans Hornets had a chance to secure a playoff birth with a win over the Houston Rockets. The first quarter was full of anticipation and Rocket made three’s. Houston shot and made just about everything from the three-point arc as Kevin Martin smiled and mocked the shoddy Hornets defense. A 38-first quarter was in Chris Paul’s words, “a joke.” But resiliency and toughness prevailed as New Orleans played playoff defense putting ball pressure and getting steals to get the win and the playoff birth, 101 to 93.
This season has been so tough for the Hornets, they’ve been through so much, still have so much to face, yet they still show up and take care of their business. If the they’d of dropped this it probably wouldn’t have shown just how much they’ve been up against. At the end of the day they came through and got the all important win.
What does this mean going forward? Well I think it shows that the Hornets can attack you defensively when they are playing with the right intensity. They were going up against one of the best offenses in the entire league and forced them into turnovers and tougher shots. Lack of size be damned the Hornets worked hard and showed that “Blue-Collar” mentality which Jarrett Jack speaks of.
Head over the jump for the recap of who keyed New Orleans to victory.
- Let’s start with Chris Paul shall we. Down by five in the fourth quarter the momentum seemed to be with the Rockets as NOLA bundled several opportunities. Enter CP3. Steals, fast break layups, Jarrett Jack three-pointers the game turned on its head as New Orleans went on an 8-0 run. CP played what I think, was one of his best games of the season. Kyle Lowry has been giving him fits over the season and Paul just abused him and shook all doubt about who was playing better basketball. A near triple-double for CP with 28 points on 20 shots, 10 assists on 1 turnover, 9 rebounds and a steal.
- Trevor Ariza is next up purely because of the way he’s turned it around in the past two games. With teams pretty much ignoring him on defense Ariza has taken it to them driving and looking to make the most of his opportunities. While he did hoist up 17 shots, he produced 19 points. The thing though was it wasn’t his offense that had me all giddy, it was his defense. He was a beast. He had 6 steals and constantly harassed Kevin Martin (he had 3 turnovers). This got everyone else to pick it up as the Hornets forced the Rockets into 17 total turnovers. Truly amazing.
- Jarrett Jack played the bench role giving the home team 19 points on 10 shots. He hit a number of big time free-throws, played tight defense and overall was the punch they needed to turn it around.
- Emeka Okafor played limited minutes tonight but still got some things on offense going. While he did have 5 turnovers, he still managed to get 11 points on 6 shots.
- Aaron Gray and Jason Smith produced a little bit on offense, wasn’t GREAT stuff, but it was good enough to make it into this section. 12 points on 11 shots and 9 rebounds combined in 32 minutes of play from the two.
- Carl Landry had a very poor game. The Rockets played him to near perfection frustrating him, letting him have long jump-shots. Though it wasn’t a great performance, Landry still managed to grab two clutch rebounds to make sure the Rockets were limited to one-and-done possessions.
- Marco Belinelli and Willie Green had nights to forget. For the Italian his offense was sporadic, his couldn’t find his jumpshot and his defense remained to be quite soft. Green meanwhile was his usual self, holding the ball up on offense and doing nothing else.
- Bob and Gil comparing the whole Jason Smith injury to Willis Reed. Umm…guys, for real?
- The only time the crowd seemed to get into it was with 1 minute 30 seconds left in the fourth, we have to do better than that. While C.J. Paul’s tweets aren’t really awe-inspiring, it isn’t as bad as it seems.
Next up is the Phoenix Suns in the Arena. This is the final game of the home-stand, the Hornets have gone 3-1 so far in it. I know there was a lot emotionally riding on this game, but it will be interesting to see if New Orleans can get back up for this one.
Enjoy the victory folks, and the playoff birth. Spread the word that the New Orleans Hornets are going back to the playoffs!
Final Word: PLAYOFFS!