Tag:Emeka Okafor
Posted on: December 14, 2011 8:31 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:40 pm

Chris Paul Trade Grade: Hornets have path back

By Matt Moore

There was no winning for New Orleans. No matter what, the Hornets are looking at losing the best player in franchise history. You don't replace Chris Paul. The Hornets were going to come away from trading him a worse team, facing a few years of terrible seasons. It's not what you want.

But if we take the conditions, a small market team with no leverage facing an uphill battle to even get some sort of value from the trade, with the league's overbearing hands all over it, and the roster as currently constructed, this is a great trade. The best trade you can make with CP3 is to not trade CP3. But if you're going to have to trade Chris Paul, you don't want a 30-year-old no-lift power forward, a 30-year-old combo forward who struggles with focus outside of L.A. and had no interest in playing in New Orleans, and a lesser version of Eric Gordon, along with the Knicks' 20-ish pick.

No, you want a star young player, like Eric Gordon, who has a great shot of making the All-Star game once the Hornets build anything around him. He's the franchise now, which he was not going to be in Los Angeles. You want a talented wing. Lost in this is the fact that Al Farouq-Aminu has everything you look for in a young wing. Great length, good defensive ability, decent hands. There's a lot of growth needed, but he's got the capacity to be a capable small forward in a few years. And you want to clear salary, which Chris Kaman's contract allows.

CP3 traded to the Clippers

Beyond, that, consider this. The Hornets were going to be terrible with Paul. They will be more terrible without Chris Paul. But, if you're going to be terrible, you want to be terrible this season with the 2012 draft class in play. This class is as good as any since 2003, and with the Minnesota pick they acquired from Los Angeles, the Hornets are in position to have two picks potentialy in the top five, likely in the top ten, and definitely in the lottery.

That means some combination, if they were to tank out, of Anthony Davis - Harrison Barnes - Jared Sullinger - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist along with some combination of Bradley Beal - Marquis Teague - Perry Jones - Quincy Miller - Patric Young. That's how you rebuild a franchise quickly. Young star (Gordon) plus talented athlete (Aminu) plus two top ten draft picks in a quality draft. Clear the cap, add young players, maintain flexibility, build in the Thunder model.

One veteran who expires next year. One star with high upside. One athlete with growth potential and a small contract. A pick with high value. It's a sad day for New Orleans, who loses its franchise player, and has to go through the pains of rebuilding. But after all the hand-wringing, all the consternation about the league's involvement, it got what was best for the franchise. The Hornets have to make the right decisions for it to pay off. But they have what they need to move on.

The circus is over. Time to build a new carnival.

Grade: A

Posted on: April 28, 2011 11:00 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 1:07 am

Grading the series: Lakers finish Hornets in 6

Posted by Royce Young

The Lakers put away the Hornets in six games with a 98-80 win in New Orleans. Time to pull out the red pen and mark up this test.


Kobe Bryant: A bit up and down for Kobe. He averaged better than 22 points per game and had good percentages, but in the Lakers' losses, he was a bit erratic. He was bad in Game 2, but the Lakers handled the Hornets easily that night. In Game 5, he wasn't, and L.A. lost by five. But a commendable effort battling through an ankle sprain to not only score the ball, but defend Chris Paul. Kobe wasn't great, but even in his mediocrity, he was pretty darn good.

Grade: B

Pau Gasol: He woke up in the final three games, but for Games 1 and 2, he was so average that people were actually wondering if Marc was the better of the two. Pau was just so disengaged. He wasn't into it. He floated. It was frustrating to watch, mainly because of the Hornets depleted front line. I mean, look at who Gasol was going against. Aaron Gray, Jason Smith, Carl Landry and D.J. Mbenga. Not exactly players that should be stopping him. He responded well the last three, but still, those weren't the dominant games you'd expect from a player as gifted as Gasol. He needs to be better.

Grade: C

Andrew Bynum: I said it in this other piece, but Bynum was the MVP of this series. He played six very good games, was involved, aggressive and locked in on both ends. He took advantage of the Hornets inside group and scored in double-figures every game. He was the dominant big man he's supposed to be.

Grade: A

Overall grade: Should this series have taken six games? Absolutely not. Did the Lakers reveal a good number of holes and make a lot of people rightfully question their ability to win a third straight title? Without a doubt. But they also won the series, and don't forget that the Hornets had one of the very few players in basketball that has the ability to win games against anyone all on his own. The Lakers weren't great, but they were good enough.

Grade: B


Chris Paul: Like a cold-handed slap in the face, CP3 reminded everyone that he is, indeed, still the best point guard in basketball. He was downright terrifying. His Game 6 was a complete disappointment, but the weight of carrying a depleted roster against one of the premier teams in the league gets heavy. I mean the Hornets won two games against the defending champs with Chris Paul and four ball boys on the floor at one time. That's impressive. I give him a pass for the Game 6 clunker.

Grade: A

NOLA front line: For a second there, we were all shocked at the words coming out of our mouths. Aaron Gray... important? But things came back down to reality. This was obviously the biggest mismatch on the floor, and while Emeka Okafor battled valiantly along with Gray, Carl Landry, Mbenga and Jason Smith, they just weren't hanging inside. The Lakers dominated the paint, owned the glass and overwhelmed the Hornets.

Grade: C+

Monty Williams: This was Williams' first trip into the postseason as a head man and I'd say he got his group as well prepared as it could be to take on a team that is head and shoulders above. He used the Lakers' strength against them, exploiting mismatches on switches. With Paul and Jarrett Jack together in the backcourt, the Lakers had a hard time matching up. It was a solid gameplan, but it was only destined to work for so long.

Another plus for Williams though was his willingness to go deep into his bench for help. Too few coaches do this in big games. Williams wasn't afraid to trust players that didn't have a ton of playing time to their name this season. This was partly because his options were limited, but he didn't hang on to his rotations, which I thought was good.

Grade: B+

Overall grade: Stealing Game 1 was shocking. Taking another was even more jarring, and it actually had us wondering if the Hornets had a chance. Think about that. Before this series, no one -- not even Hornets' fans -- saw this matchup as anything more than opening round fodder for the Lakers. The Hornets were just breakfast, as LeBron would say.

Instead of that happening, the Hornets found themselves in a VERY important Game 5 in Los Angeles, a place they had already won. Pull off that game and there's a real chance at an upset. Regardless, winning two games -- one in Staples -- was an impressive feat for this underdog.

Overall grade: A-

Posted on: April 28, 2011 4:52 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2011 5:06 pm

Kobe gets foul on Okafor upgraded to flagrant 1

Posted by Royce Young

According to the Lakers, via ESPN LA, the NBA has upgraded a foul by Kobe Bryant on Emeka Okafor from Game 5 to a flagrant 1.

The foul came with 3:14 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Lakers 106-90 win over the Hornets.

Are we sure the NBA didn't just get confused and give Kobe a flagrant for his dunk on Okafor? Because that was just wrong. Nasty, dirty, awesomely wrong.

Hornets' coach Monty Williams wasn't thrilled with the overly physical play and singled out Shannon Brown specifically.

"I know it's going to be a physical game, but I thought they swung at us a few times last game," Williams told reporters. "I thought Shannon should've been ejected, and if he's not going to be ejected, he shouldn't be able to play tonight. When you throw your elbow like that at a guy, I know the rule is you have to connect, but if he connects, that's a fight. It could turn into more stuff. So I expect a physical game, but I expect a fair game. That's how we play."

With the series returning to New Orleans and a rabid crowd ready to roar, I would bet on some fireworks inside the arena tonight. The Hornets clearly took issue with some of the hard Laker fouls. I'm sure Carl Landry has been sharpening those elbows a bit today.
Posted on: April 28, 2011 3:49 pm

Kobe misses shootaround, could get heavy minutes

Posted by Royce Young

Kobe Bryant missed Laker shootaround today and did not speak with reporters. Of course the reason being his ailing left ankle.

Kobe played 29 minutes in the Lakers' Game 5 win and ripped off two pretty fantastic dunks. However, the ankle still isn't 100 percent and according to reports. Bryant was seen limping around a bit following shootaround.
But that doesn't mean Kobe will be taking things easy. Via ESPN LA, Phil Jackson indicated Kobe could be seeing heavy minutes during tonight's potential close-out game of the Hornets.

"This is a game we'll go all out to win and if it's 40 minutes we'll do it," Jackson told reporters. "We're certainly not out of the woods on this situation, just because he had to play the day after, or two days after he sprained his ankle."

Would we expect anything less from Kobe? From refusing MRIs to dunking over a shot-blocker on a bum ankle, this is what Kobe does. Wouldn't shock anyone a bit if he dropped 40 tonight to finish off the Hornets. At least it wouldn't me.

Posted on: April 27, 2011 1:53 am
Edited on: April 27, 2011 2:10 am

Lakers hit their form in Game 5 win over Hornets

The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday night to take a 3-2 series lead. Posted by Ben Golliver.

The Los Angeles Lakers have come and gone multiple times already this series, but they were back again on Tuesday night, polishing off the New Orleans Hornets, 106-90, to take a 3-2 series lead.  

The Game 5 headlines will go to Kobe Bryant's dunks, as well they should. On two separate occasions, Bryant displayed the aggression, athleticism, agility and opportunism that turned him into a Jordanesque global icon. First, he banged hard on Hornets center Emeka Okafor; then, he cruised past Hornets forward Carl Landry for a crafty lefty flush.  

Dunks aside, this was L.A.'s most impressive performance of the series, because they took a very solid punch from the Hornets and didn't flinch. The Hornets came out firing and didn't look back. They got big nights from all the guys they've needed to get points from; Trevor Ariza (22 points) and Marco Belinelli (21 points) in particular. More important than the output was the efficiency: New Orleans hit nearly half of their three-point tries and shot 49.3% from the field. Aside from some shaky foul shooting, the Hornets were about as good as they could have hoped to be on a night when Chris Paul (20 points and 12 assists) was merely excellent rather than transcendent.

The Lakers clearly rose to the challenge, inviting the back-and-forth, up-and-down exchanges. All five Lakers starters scored in double figures, as did Lamar Odom ... and those numbers were representative. Bryant got a bit of extra rest for his sprained left ankle in the first half, and it was a team effort to fill in the gaps. The ball was moving, the big men were finally pounding the rim regularly, and Ron Artest and Derek Fisher were doing enough to stretch the floor. This was the Lakers starting unit -- on both ends -- that strikes fear in people's hearts. They dominated the rebounds 42-25 -- as they should -- and won the battle for second chance points by an astonishing 22-2.

Perhaps the biggest win for L.A., though, was Bryant's playing time. Given the Lakers' double-digit lead late, and Jackson's early rotation tweak, Bryant played just 28 minutes. If his ankle was an issue, and it certainly didn't seem like it when he was looking down on Okafor, Bryant leaves Game 5 not only with the highlight reel dunks, but also with a bit of extra rest that's precious this time of year.

The Lakers are playing on their own timeline, clearly indifferent to outside expectations or pressure. They've flipped switches on and off at will over the last week. Will they show up to Game 6 on Thursday to lay the hammer down? Does Paul have one final Magic act up his sleeve? 

Those remain open, good questions. But L.A.'s Game 5 performance served as a not-so-gentle reminder that it will take a minor miracle for the Hornets to send them to an early offseason.
Posted on: April 26, 2011 11:49 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2011 12:24 am

Kobe Bryant dunks on Emeka Okafor video

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant throws down the dunk of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. Posted by Ben Golliver.

We have a clear winner for the best dunk of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. During the second quarter of Game 5 between the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Hornets, Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant elevated like it was 1999. 

With the Lakers trailing 44-40, Bryant collected a kick out pass from Lakers forward Pau Gasol at the top of the key. Hornets forward Trevor Ariza was caught out of position and Bryant attacked the paint at full speed. With none of New Orleans' bigs stepping up to stop his penetration, Bryant simply decided to go airborne. Hornets center Emeka Okafor, a shot-blocking specialist, attempted to contest Bryant's dunk attempt, but it was too little, too late. Bryant threw down a vicious one-handed slam over Okafor. 

Here's video of Bryant putting Okafor on the poster.

Entering the game, there was talk about whether Bryant would be able to be effective on his sprained left ankle. I guess we have our answer.

Update: In the third quarter, Bryant did it again, blowing by Ariza off the dribble to throw down a left-handed slam dunk over Hornets forward Carl Landry.

Here's video.

Posted on: March 25, 2011 9:14 am

Video: Emeka Okafor goes to the bank

Posted by Royce Young

Thursday wasn't a great night for Hornets fans. David West went down with what appeared to be a pretty serious knee injury and with that, any hopes of making a strong playoff run went down with him.

But if there was something to provide even a slim pick-me-up, it was Emeka Okafor's insane miracle buzzer-beating bank shot that sent the game to overtime, where the Hornets eventually won 121-117. Forgetting what happened to West isn't easy (he has an MRI today), but for a second there, Okafor's shot had to make everyone feel good again.

Posted on: February 1, 2011 10:38 am

Emeka Okafor out 1-3 weeks with oblique strain

Posted by Royce Young

Hornets center Emeka Okafor suffered a grade two left rectus oblique strain an MRI revealed. Because of it, he's expected to be out one-to-three weeks.

And don't ask me what a "left rectus" is because I don't really want to know. Okafor is one of the league's iron men having played in 306 consecutive games. Obviously that will come to an end now.

For the Hornets, this definitely hurts them for the time being because they don't have much depth behind Okafor. They have D.J. Mbenga, Jason Smith and David Anderson as options. Not exactly players you get all that excited about to replace one of your best interior options.

Judging by a little research, the injury is something that typically doesn't really linger a whole lot and isn't that difficult to come back from. So while Okafor will miss a little time and maybe up to almost a month, he'll be back and ready for when the Hornets really need him in March.
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