Tag:Chris Paul
Posted on: November 22, 2010 1:57 pm
 

Chris Paul is feeling pretty good about things

Hornets guard feeling better about things with team thriving.
Posted by Matt Moore

Seems like only yesterday that Chris Paul was unhappy with management and working to extricate himself from New Orleans in order to make sure his prime isn't wasted. Now, with the Hornets 11-1 and the toast of the NBA, Paul's feeling a lot better about things. As he told NBA FanHouse:

"Yeah, I'm happy," he said with a smile after a gritty 75-71 win in which he shot just 2 of 12 from the field for four points but had 14 assists despite the Hornets shooting just 32.2 percent. "I'm happy. We're good to go."

Most interestingly, FanHouse reports that part of Paul's newfound contentment is due to the near-sale of the Hornets to Gary Chouest. Apparently Paul was concerned about current owner George Shinn's commitment to spending for a winner. Helping things has been Dell Demps' shrewd maneuvering (depending on who you ask ), and Monty Williams' coaching, which Paul raves about.

The question is if Paul will still feel this way if the gap between the Hornets and Lakers is revealed to be as wide as it's considered to be. If Paul can win but not win a championship, is that enough for him? Likewise, best buddy LeBron James' current struggles in Miami have to put Paul a little off on the idea of ditching his team for a super-team-up in New York or elsewhere. Paul was talked about as part of the toast at Carmelo Anthony's wedding reception this summer. But Paul's under contract, has publicly supported New Orleans, and now that the Hornets are winning, you have to wonder if all that's behind him.

Then again, check back in February and things may be dramatically different, even if he does have good buddy Jarrett Jack to hang out with (at a hefty price for a backup). But for now, Paul's happy to be winning, happy to be in New Orleans, and happy with how things are going. Things have changed awful fast. Hopefully for Hornets fans, they won't change again that quick.
Posted on: November 15, 2010 11:21 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2010 11:39 pm
 

Mavs zero in on Paul to give Hornets first loss

Dirk and Terry help Mavericks send Hornets to first season loss as they corral Chris Paul in second half. Posted by Matt Moore

Well, it had to happen sometime. The Hornets had managed to gun out to a franchise-best 8-0 start this season with new head coach Monty Williams leading revamped bench and wing units alongside a healthy Chris Paul. But Dirk Nowitzki and a very solid overall performance from the Mavericks proved too much and the Hornets suffered their first loss this season in Dallas 95-98 .

The Mavericks have now knocked off Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul in a week, and though Paul dropped a line of 22 points, 9 assists, and 4 rebounds, the widely regarded best-point-guard in the league had 20, 5, and 4 at halftime. In the second half, Dallas threw a combination of hard hedges off the pick and roll and constant run-outs on the drive and kick to contain Paul. Paul often wound up late in the shot clock, having to hoist off-balance fade-aways as the Mavericks used many of the same tricks they used against Rondo to keep Paul out of the paint.

On the offensive end, Jason Terry was en fuego. While the Horents actually played great defense, their focus was on trying to stop Dirk Nowitzki (they didn't, he finished with 25 on just 12 shots), and Terry managed to slip out in transition or get open off offensive rebounds. The Hornets controlled the glass, but Dallas was more patient on offense, pulling in a higher free throw rate.

Now that the Hornets have suffered their first loss, the question now will become if they can go back to their winning ways or if this streak of play was a combination of things going right. A lot went right for New Orleans tonight, with Willie Green and Peja Stojakovic playing well in a rare appearance. Their defense suffered at the hands of good ball movement and Dirk-caliber play from Dirk. But if they keep up the kind of effort they've given in the first nine games, it's hard to see the Hornets not maintaining their spot near the top of the West.

For Dallas? Look out. Once again, this is a great team, deep and talented, and they've just solved two of the best point guards in the league. You can't stop those guys, as proven by their stat lines. But by committing your defensive scheme to stop them, you can make life hard enough to get a win.


Posted on: November 12, 2010 1:35 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2010 1:40 pm
 

Friday 5 With KB: KG the Jerk, Heat fail, and BRI


Posted by Matt Moore

1. Kevin Garnett is not exactly the most popular guy in the world right now. Garnett seems to be the kind of guy who is loved by his friends and close circle and is abrasive to everyone else. Do you have any thoughts on his evolving legacy from lovable lunatic lose to hated psychotic champion?

Ken Berger: I think your evaluation of KG is spot on. He is like the crazy uncle that everyone is wary of and constantly nervous about what he might say or do next. But he's family, so you tolerate him. You know, the old, "He's a jerk, but he's our jerk." At this point, Garnett could care less what people think about him or what his legacy is. He's perfectly content to continue yapping and thumping his chest and winning another championship. And I don't see anything wrong with that, as long as he doesn't care that he'll never be named man of the year or Mr. Congeniality. To me, the funniest aspect of this whole episode recently was Joakim Noah calling Garnett ugly. Hey, Jo, I don't think GQ is putting you on the cover any time soon.

2. Not exactly a banner week for the Heat. Scale of 1 to 5. How much should fans  (if there are any) be pushing the panic button?

KB: I'd say 3.5. On one hand, some of this could have and should have been expected, given that basketball is a team game and you can't just plug talent into the equation like in baseball and automatically win 70 percent of your games and waltz to the championship. I know that you know that in basketball, how the pieces fit together are every bit as important -- if not more so -- than the talent itself. Eventually, the talent will shine through, and LeBron and Wade will become as deadly a combination as we thought they'd be. But there are several areas of concern that need to be watched closely: The misuse of LeBron's and Wade's best attributes when they are on the floor with a point guard, meaning neither one has the ball in his hands for too many possessions. This can (and should) be solved when Mike Miller comes back. Instead of a point guard, you put Miller on the floor with LeBron and Wade acting as interchangeable wings who take turns initiating the offense. In my mind, LeBron fits this role best. Two, the lack of size is becoming a major issue. Erick Dampier, please pick up the white courtesy phone. Three, Erik Spoelstra struck a chord when he lectured the team at halftime Thursday night about ego. It has been a real wakeup call for these three free-agent darlings who came together so effortlessly. Winning in May and June is going to prove a lot more difficult than winning in July.

3. In the Post-Ups you alluded to the improving situation in New Orleans. Now that the team looks like it's ready to compete in the playoffs again (though it's still early), is it time to start looking for what can get them to the next level, and what is that?

KB: I think it's a positive sign that the Hornets are trying to get someone CP3 would consider to be a top-tier running mate. But they're a little stuck in that regard, and here's why: Peja Stojakovic and his $14.3 million expiring contract could be easily deal to a team trying to get off a lot of future money, and if one of those pieces coming back is an elite 3-point shooter, New Orleans is better in the short run. But they future money they'd have to take back in such a deal would hamper their ability to make moves next summer -- or whenever the lockout ends and under whatever new rules exist. The most valuable asset on the NBA market right now is cap flexibility heading into the uncertainty of a new CBA, especially for low-revenue markets. So the Hornets can't allow themselves to be tempted by the prospect of getting better in the short term at the expense of hampering their flexibility heading into a new deal. 

4. You also wrote in the Post-Ups that Kevin Love is garnering offers. Why is it that the Wolves are so reticent to trade him if they won't play the man?

KB: Ah, this is a question that goes straight to the heart of the most mysterious figure in the NBA, David Kahn. I'm told in recent days that Love isn't the only player who wants out of Minnesota. Corey Brewer does, too -- but Brewer isn't making any noise publicly, or even privately. Love is doing both. Right now, the Wolves like Love's talent but are disenchanted with his attitude. I think if the right deal came along, they'd move him. Because that locker room is too fragile right now to risk keeping a malcontent on board. Maybe Kahn can trade Love for a few more point guards.

5. BRI up 3 to 3.5%, record ratings across the board. Selling the NBA store for $300 million. The league is booming. Are owners really going to walk away from the most prosperous time in recent history to prove a point? Really?
KB: Yes sir-ee-bob. A hearty contingent of owners see this as a once-in-a -lifetime opportunity to change the economics of the sport in their favor. They also know the vast majority of people will side with them, because of their inherent biases against "greedy millionaire players." This is silly, of course, but it's just the way things are. There are a couple of reasons to be encouraged: 1) sources tell me numerous owners were impressed with the players' presentation of their proposal at a recent CBA meeting, realizing that the union was offering some creative ideas as how to make the business better for everyone; and 2) there's still a lot of time. The next key time-marker in this battle is All-Star weekend, when both sides concede significant progress will need to have been made. But as in all negotiations, the real progress doesn't happen until the 11th hour. Will there be a lockout? Yes, in my opinion. Are the owners and players short-sighted enough to let it wipe out an entire season, or even as much of the season as the '98-'99 lockout did? I don't think so. Both sides realize there's too much at stake.
Posted on: November 10, 2010 10:06 am
Edited on: November 10, 2010 12:07 pm
 

Game Changer 11.10.10: Fluke or Fact?

Was the Jazz win a fluke or a sign of the Heat's cooler underbelly? Did the Hornets just win with their bench? And are the Cavs leading their freaking division? All this and more in today's GameChanger .
Posted by Matt Moore


Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.  

THE BIG ONE: JAZZ PULL A FAST ONE ON THE HEAT


So the question is... was this fluke a not? Because the implications are rather significant. Let's not, for a moment, take anything away from the Utah Jazz. They were on the road, in a hostile sleepy environment, and they simply scratched, clawed, and pounded their way to a win over the most star-studded team in the NBA. Down by 20 last night, they roared back in a 72-point second half to defeat the Heat. A huge win for coach Jerry Sloan, a win the team needed, and an amazing night for Jazz fans that shows their tenacity, their heart, and their talent.

Now, then.

The Heat won the rebounding battle, 46-44. The Heat split the turnover battle, with each team losing it a dozen times, nothing too egregious. The Heat fouled only 20 times to the Jazz' 32. And until the fourth quarter, they held a significant advantage in shooting percentage, with the Jazz shooting 41% to the Heat's 47%. There were a lot of things that would have to go right in the fourth for the Jazz to force overtime.

They happened.

For starters, the Jazz shot 17 of 23 in the fourth, not Indiana numbers , but still an absurd streak. This was of course capped off by Paul Millsap. Millsap entered last night's game a career 2 of 20 3-point shooter (10%). In the final minute of the game, he drained three 3-pointers, making him perfect on the season, as they were the only 3-pointers he's taken this season. Swish. Swish. Swish. Throw on top of that the 46 point detonation he leveled with the other 37 points, including the two on the tip in to force overtime, and you have an amazing night for Millsap, and a huge outlier in terms of predictable results. The Heat suddenly found themselves dropped from an airplane and happened to land right in the middle of a tornado. That's what we're talking about here in terms of probabilities.

So was it a fluke?

I don't think so.

We see the same pattern carried out across the Heat's three losses. A scoring forward down low who's able to use his size to create points amid the barren trees of Miami (tall, sure, but not great defenders). And a point guard who can tear you up (Deron Williams tallied 14 assists last night). In Boston it was Rondo and Glen Davis; in New Orleans it was Chris Paul and Emeka Okafor. Now Millsap-Williams scratch their names onto the tree trunk of inside-out combos that have cooled the Heat. Furthermore, we see the same kind of discombobulation we've seen all season, especially in crunch time, the same reliance on sub-par players to take the biggest shots ("Eddie House for the win... clang!"), the same lackadaisical performance out of the Heat mentally, and the same defensive breakdowns in the biggest moments.

Adding to the improbability of the night was the fact that the Triad gave the kind of performance you'd want from them. Dwyane Wade had 39 and 6 rebounds, LeBron James had a triple-double with 20, 11 boards, and 14 assists, and Chris Bosh had 17 and 9. And they still lost .

The Jazz needed a few more things go their way in this one, that's for sure. The problem is the Heat handed the Jazz those things on a platter. And trying to establish exactly how to resolve those things isn't going to be easy for head coach Erik Spoelstra, who's got to be feeling a little hot this morning either way.

Great win for the Jazz, tough loss for the Heat.

GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE NIGHT:


Paul Millsap: Yeah, we'll go ahead and notch him down with 46 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block.

LaMarcus Aldridge: 19 points, 17 rebounds, and Aldridge seems more and more like he's taken a big step into becoming a legit big.

Kevin Love: 23 points, 24 rebounds. Amazing what happens when a good player gets playing time, isn't it?

Dwyane Wade: 39 points, 6 rebounds. Hard to argue that Wade didn't do his part last night.

LeBron James: 20 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists. His first triple-double as a member of the Heat. And again, they lost. So weird.

Al Farouq Aminu: 20 points, 8 rebounds. Look at the rookie make progress!

WHAT YOU MISSED:


Brandon Roy had his knee drained .

Our Power Rankings are out , and we went 3-Up, 3-Down .

Oh, and the Pacers went freaking En Fuego .

KB lays out how the Bret Bearup situation affects Melo .

HORNETS KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON (WINNING)


This time they didn't even need Chris Paul to be amazing. The Hornets had every reason for a let-down game after their last week and hot start. Hey, they've got to lose sometime, don't they?

Don't they?

The Clippers are a bad team, but again played well last night, enough to hang until the fourth, with Al Farouq Aminu emerging from the shadows looking like an actual NBA player. But this time it wasn't the starting superstars that did it for the Hornets. It was the bench mob. Jerryd Bayless ran the show, Willie Green filled it up (19 points on 7-10 shooting), and that was enough for the Hornets to pull away and not need Chris Paul to press his knee anymore. The Hornets just keep finding ways to get it done. The Hornets are running a weird modified break, where they force the issue, pulling teams inside, then using smart passing around the perimeter to get the job done with open jumpers. It may not be sustainable, but by God, it's working right now.

YOUR DAILY SIGN OF THE IMPENDING APOCALYPSE

The Cleveland Cavaliers lead the Central division at 4-3.

WHIMSY


"Hold me... "




HERO OF THE DAY


Uh, yeah, I think we'll go with MANSAP.



ONE FINAL THOUGHT

The Minnesota Timberwolves played a great game last night. It'll get glossed over in the headlines and be forgotten within about, oh, four hours, but they really did. Kevin Love was just tremendous on the glass and they had some good things going. They just couldn't get the last burst to get past the Lakers, who had one of their "Do we really have to care nights?" And the answer was no. But still, good stuff from the Wolves who responded to their beat downs lately with a respectable performance. And yet another loss.

Follow F&R on Twitter at @CBSSportsNBA and check out our RSS feed . This has been your daily edition of the Game Changer.

Posted on: November 10, 2010 9:34 am
Edited on: November 10, 2010 9:40 am
 

Shootaround 11.10.10: Jazz hands

Posted by Royce Young
  • Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Asked to describe a win that saw the Jazz rally from a 19-point halftime deficit -- Paul Millsap drilled three 3-point shots in 27.2 seconds in the final minute of the fourth quarter -- the longtime backup and workaholic long overshadowed by Carlos Boozer first said he was speechless. Then the humble, quiet starting power forward who has suddenly emerged as the team’s premier offensive option in the paint and on the perimeter beamed. Millsap had never scored 46 points in his entire life. Not in youth ball, not in high school, not in college and definitely not in the pros. Top off the outing with the fact that Millsap sent the game into overtime with a tip-in as time expired in regulation, and it was a night that the small-college player who once had to prove that he even belonged in the NBA will never forget. This one was special for Millsap."
  • Didier Morais of The Miami Herald: "With center Joel Anthony starting at an undersized 6-9 and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, 35, serving as his backup, Miami appeared to lack a traditional big man to work the paint alongside its Big 3. And Tuesday night's 116-114 loss to Utah at AmericanAirlines Arena highlighted the issue. Playing against one of the Western Conference's top forward groups in Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Andrei Kirilenko, the Heat's big men faltered down the stretch after sparking Miami to a first-half lead."
  • Erik Spoelstra to the Palm Peach Post: "Mario's not in my doghouse. This is circumstantial," Spoelstra said. "He was not ready physically to compete for the starting position during training camp and for the first game. Since then we've gotten into a rotation and this is what we're going with right now."
  • Zach Harper for Hardwood Paroxysm: "Ultimately, it’s okay to be impressed with what Rajon Rondo is doing. It’s okay to want Derrick Rose to realize his potential or hope Russell Westbrook develops a jumper or wish Deron Williams would stop going to Supercuts to get his hair did. The new fads are fun. You can grab a laser disc player. You get to play with your Furby. Go to town on your pogs. Just remember to not lose sight of who the best is right now. Chris Paul is back. He never really left. And he’s going to make you rue the day that you doubted he was still the best at what he does."
  • John Krolik on the Cavs: "For the first three quarters, the Cavs showed how dangerous they can be running the Princeton offense with all the versatile weapons they have on offense. The improvement that Varejao and Hickson made to their jumpers in the off-season is nothing short of stunning, and they both look really comfortable playing the high post, keeping the floor stretched when they’re left alone, and finding cutters from the high post and moving without the ball down low."
Posted on: November 8, 2010 5:06 pm
 

What we've learned: Week 2



Posted by Royce Young

I have a confession. This is something I'm not proud of. This is something I haven't told many people, but I'm going to share with you guys who are my closest friends (right?). Up until about five years ago, I didn't know what "tennis shoes" were. I only knew of these things called "tennashoes." It's true.

I considered (and still do) consider myself a decently bright person. But for some reason, that little nugget of information always slipped past me. I remember saying to myself upon learning the correct usage, "Oh, well you learn something new every day."

And when it comes to the NBA, that's definitely true. In this case, we learn new things every week. Now two weeks are down and everyone has at least five games under their belt. What kind of knowledge do we have now that maybe we didn't have before? Five things:

Forget Durant. Forget LeBron. Chris Paul is your current MVP frontrunner - in November. These things change. Kind of like how in college football everyone freaks out and starts declaring Heisman frontrunners in September (remember Denard Robinson and Ryan Mallett? How are they doing now?), people like to crown MVP winners way too early. So keep that in mind as I tell you that Chris Paul is the early favorite to win the MVP award.

There's a lot of criteria, though undefined, as to what it takes to win the MVP. A great season, a great team and big media attention are all important parts. But right now, CP3 has two added things that makes him a prime candidate: 1) A great story and 2) A great turnaround.

Before the season not many expected the Hornets to be a viable contender in the West. But they've started well going 6-0, which includes a big win over the Heat. And what that means is that Chris Paul gets a lot of credit for raising his game to make what most perceived as an average team into a good team and that immediately, we all start saying things like "CP3 4 MVP!"

Come March though, if the Hornets have returned to the planet and are hovering around .500, playing out a season that most expected, Paul probably won't be an MVP favorite. If Durant's Thunder are on course for 50 wins and he's going to lead the league in scoring, he'll probably win. Or if Dwight Howard is putting up 25 and 12 for a 55-win Magic, he'll get the nod. So it's too early to make any real judgments on it yet, but if we were handing out an MVP for the First Two Weeks Award, Chris Paul would be deserving.

Oklahoma City really does has some work to do. It's not time to panic in Thunderland, but it's not a bad time to raise an eyebrow.

The Thunder are 3-3 with losses to the Jazz, the Clippers and the Celtics. Not terrible loss, considering the Clipper loss came on the road. But the two home losses to the Celtics and Jazz are really the ones that have people puzzled. In both games, OKC was down by 20 points and in both games, struggled on both ends of the floor.

The Thunder offense is basically a complete mess right now. It's all one-on-one basketball with at the most, two passes on a possession. OKC ranks dead last in assists per game and last in assists per field goal made. They aren't moving the ball, aren't spacing and aren't shooting well. Honestly, maybe it's a miracle it's not worse than 3-3.

So much expectation was placed on this team and it's way too early to give up on them. It's too early to even start saying things like, "I thought this team was supposed to challenge the Lakers... yeah right." Give it time. How you're playing in the first two weeks of November doesn't matter near as much as how you're playing the last two weeks of March.

It's too early to be concerned about a team that still has every key piece off a team that won 50 games last season. But it might not be too early to ask what's going on.

It's the Lakers and 29 other teams right now. There are about four elite looking teams in the league right now. The Heat, the Celtics, the Magic and the Lakers. But the Lakers have even separated themselves from those other three at this point.

The 7-0 record is nice, but the Lakers lead the league in point differential, winning by an average of 13.6 points a game. And it's not just that, but they've dismantled teams. Like dominated them. What's scary too, is that they aren't even at full strength without Andrew Bynum. That sound you heard was the entire Western Conference peeing their pants.

It's way premature to start talking about 72 wins for this team because their competition hasn't been that difficult and losing three in a row isn't that hard to do in the NBA. But as it stands now, in terms of ranking power, it's the Lakers alone at the top, with 29 other teams looking up.

Houston may have a big problem. (Has that joke reached a point where it's fair to use again? Like it's so lame that it's kind of OK?) The Rockets start of 1-5 was unexpected. They do have an excuse because they've probably played the toughest schedule in the league thus far. The teams they've lost to are a combined 25-5. They finally caught a bad team, whooping the Timberwolves Sunday.

Houston surely isn't feeling great about its start because you never want to dig a hole early, but with the loss of Aaron Brooks for 4-6 weeks, it could be getting a little rougher for the Rockets. They are on the road for five of their next six and after three weeks of the NBA season could be too far behind to make up ground.

The Wolves are truly terrible. In the same way starting any 72-win talk now is way too early, starting any "worst team ever" talking is equally premature.

Howevah, the Timberwolves are ridiculously, comically bad. They won their opening game by a point over the Kings and now have dropped five straight. They are losing by an average of 17.1 points per game right now. The next closest team is the Wizards, who are losing by 11.6 ppg.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, in the past 20 seasons, only two other teams have suffered three 25-point losses in their first seven games: the Bulls in 2003 and the SuperSonics in 2005. The Wolves have lost by 25 or more in three of their first seven games. Yikes.

Add in the fact that the Wolves lost every functioning point guard on the roster and may be starting Wayne Ellington or Maurice Ager there for a week and it's kind of hard to picture the next Minnesota win.

These are the pains you go through when you're rebuilding (or I guess "building" in Minnesota's case). Remember, the Thunder were 3-29 before Christmas two seasons ago. So things can be turned around. But at this current moment, the Wolves are a total disaster in every way.
Posted on: November 6, 2010 5:41 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2010 5:42 pm
 

Add Chris Paul and Carmelo to the London wishlist

Posted by Royce Young

The 2012 Olympic roster is filling out already. Well, not technically. Just players that will almost definitely be on the team are saying they want in. So far, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant have all said they are ready and willing.

Well, add two more: Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony.

Paul told The Times-Picayune that he's all in. "I'm in. I want to be," Paul said Friday night. "I want to play. If they'll have me, I want to play."

Anthony told The Denver Post, "I'm in," Anthony said. "Yeah, I'm locked in."

Of course, both players have to "make" the team, but that shouldn't be too much of an issue. Neither participated in the 2010 World Championships though. Paul didn't play because he was recovering from a couple different injuries. Anthony didn't play because he was getting married.

"At least most of us (from the 2008 team want to play)," Paul also added. "Those guys did an outstanding job this year, so it's going to be tough with the committee deciding who's going to be on and off the team. But I want to be on. No question. I need me another gold medal."

They aren't complete locks though because Coach K and Jerry Colangelo seemed extremely pleased with the roster that participated in Turkey. So with some of those guys maturing a bit more over the next two years, there actually may be some competition.

But think about it: Durant, LeBron, Kobe, Howard, Paul, Carmelo are almost certainly going to be on the team. And then there's Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, Stephen Curry and the list of guys that were terrific in Turkey. And then, there are other players like Deron Williams, Tim Duncan, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade who haven't committed either way yet.

The 2012 roster will definitely be stacked. It's just a matter of who it's stacked with.
Posted on: November 5, 2010 11:10 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2010 1:47 am
 

At the Buzzer: CP3 bests the Miami 3 in Big Easy

Hornets topple Heat as CP3 shines alongside Okafor. Posted by Matt Moore

Chris Paul overcame a furious comeback from the Miami Heat, dishing to a wide-open Trevor Ariza for the game-clinching three-pointer while David West nailed the key free throws to hold on for a 96-93 win in New Orleans to push the Hornets to 6-0.

Notes and miscellanea:

  • First off, the Heat, for reasons beyond comprehension, continue to work with their stars to create wide-open shots for teammates who are not capable of hitting them to the volume they are being asked to. Worse, they continue to force the issue even when said teammates are obviously colder than a polar bear's toenails. James Jones and Eddie House were a combined 2 of 13 from 3-point land, and yet House the shooter they went to, down 3 with seven seconds remaining. Not Wade, Not James. 0-fer Eddie House. 
  • But if the Heat want to really examine why they lost their second game in the first two weeks of the season, they have to examine the two areas everyone pointed to coming in. The Hornets abused them both at the point guard and center positions. Carlos Arroyo tried for about a half to guard Chris Paul before Erik Spoelstra was forced to turn to Wade to defend CP3, who did a much better job. Well, I mean, held him to only 19 assists and 13 points.
  • Meanwhile, Okafor was dominant, with 26 points on 12 of 13 shooting and 13 boards. Best of all, for the first time that I've seen, Okafor really looked to understand the kind of movement he needed to have with CP3. He even had some of those alley-oops Tyson Chandler used to catch back in the Hornets run of 2008. He had the mid-range going, the baby hook, the swing-up fadeaway, the whole repertoire. And by whole repertoire, I mean a lot of shots he's never shown reliably before this year. Devastating inside-out attack.
  • For Ariza to nail the corner three to finish the game was a shock because he didn't look good for much of the game, opting for pull-up threes in transition and other Ariza-shots. But he hit the one he needed to.
  • The Hornets broke out in transition ridiculously fast. With Paul getting 5 steals, they managed to burst out and all the Hornets would rush out. The Heat on the other hand seemed to be trying to glide down court, with little to no intensity. 
  • Jason Smith was huge for the Hornets, as he continuously burned the Heat who let him have the 18 foot jumper.
  • Wade had 28, 10, and 7, but also had 7 turnovers. His matchup with CP3 late was pretty epic.
  • The Heat eventuall switched to a shallow perimeter trap on Paul, which is the best way to go. A high trap he'll split and in space he's killer. Unfortunately, the Hornets switched to a double-screen which freed him to do damage down the stretch.
  • The game nearly came down to a technical foul called on Paul after throwing his fist following an offensive foul. Paul even tried to contain himself afterwards to not get busted, to no avail. The officials are still not kidding about the tech rules. 
  • Chris Bosh had a rebound tonight. A single board. And was useless in the post. He was great from mid-range and on tip-ins, but Bosh is simply not the kind of low-post big you'd want him to be.
  • The Heat defense, which had been so good, gave up a 107.9 efficiency rating, and 49% field goal percentage. That's not going to get it done.
  • Conversely, it may be time to start accepting that the Hornets are for real. The trifecta of firepower they brought in (Paul-West-Okafor) is firing on all cylinders, their shooters are hitting from the outside, and true to Monty Williams' word, they're out and running in transition. It's still early, but the Hornets very much look for real.

Finally, these images from our GameTracker pretty much put it in perspective.








Note the numbers, for Okafor. That big square down in the paint? That stands for 9 shots, 8 makes. Manly.

 
 
 
 
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