Tag:David West
Posted on: December 22, 2008 1:00 am
 

New Orleans Hornets Week 8 Review

Right now it's good to be a Hornets fan. Chris Paul is setting all time records, the team has won 11 of its last 13 games, and they have a tough stretch coming up that us Hornets fans are as excited about as any games since the beginning of the season. The Hornets had two good games at Memphis and at home against Sacramento (avenging an earlier loss to the Kings this season in New Orleans) and the week was highlighted with a humongous 4th quarter against the, then, red hot San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. It was a week that left a lot to be excited about in the Big Easy and also reason for optimism after a frustratingly inconsistent start for the team.

The week began at Memphis with the Hornets overcoming a testy and confrontational Grizzlies squad to set up the big showdown Wednesday night at home against the Spurs. The sting of a seventh game loss still affects me to this day and in no way does this loss erase that unsettling conclusion that your team's run at a championship is officially on ice. But seeing Matt Bonner and Michael Finley miss all those open shots and watching David West nail two different three point daggers sure did make me happy for one night.

But even though West played the role of a hero of sorts in Wednesday's game, his play needs to come into question. Last season, West became so consistently deadly from mid range that he's relied too much on that shot this year. Some games I'll see him roaming around the top of the key instead of doing his job as the only inside scoring presence that the Hornets have. That mid range jump shot should be an asset not a reliance. He leads the team in scoring and his play is so critical to the organization that the Hornets simply can't rely on him shooting 40% for the week. He needs to be more effecient for this team to reach that ultimate goal of a championship.

Morris Peterson came back in a big way Saturday night against the Kings. His 10 points were all critical baskets and I still believe his play is going to be critical for this team down the stretch. I'd like to see him play his way back into the rotation. I love what Devin Brown brings to the team, but with Peja Stojakovic out I'd much rather have Rasual Butler and Peterson starting and have Devin Brown play off of the bench. Speaking of Peja's injury, how on Earth did that happen? He went from hitting a crucial three point dagger against Memphis to surprisingly missing the game against San Antonio and then missing the game against the Kings as well. His injury was extremely surprising and for a majority of that Spurs game his presence was definitely missed. Even if he struggles at the three point line, you know he's a threat and people were playing off of Devin Brown on the perimeter. The Hornets need Peja in order to succeed.

What's happened to Melvin Ely? Is Sean Marks really that better of an option than Ely is? Marks has never contributed consistently on a team and he looks lost out there at times. Ely is every bit as effecient offensively as Marks is and I don't see the point of having Marks getting the big minutes. He even logged more minutes than Hilton Armstrong the game against the Kings. I'm not one to question Byron Scott, but I just don't get it.

The Hornets have an extremely tough week on the brink, with games at home against the Lakers, at the Magic on Christmas Day and against the Rockets at home on Friday night. That three game in four day stretch will end on Sunday at Indiana against a Pacers team that has shown it can beat the top teams in the league. It's a challenging upcoming week for the Hornets, but it's a week that should be fun to watch. Until next week.

Posted on: December 15, 2008 1:43 am
 

New Orleans Hornets Week 7 Review

Alright, alright, alright people here it comes: I was wrong. But I was right in my wrongness. Before the season started I stated that Mike James would have to be a productive player and have to be the backup shooting guard for the Hornets as a result of his contract and the team's lack of depth behind Chris Paul at the position. I stated that the loss of Jannero Pargo was going to cripple the Hornets coming into the season (and said it before everyone else has now noticed it) but stated that James could put up Pargo numbers with Pargo's minutes. That's probably true for James over in Washington but he's not going to put those numbers up in New Orleans. Wednesday's trade for Antonio Daniels and a conditional 2nd round draft pick left Mike James in Washington and give the Hornets the backup point guard they need to be taken with a bit of legitimacy. Devin Brown has been servicable at the backup point guard position but it's clear he's playing out of position at that spot. Now that he's going to move back to his more natural 2 position, it looks as if he's played his way into the rotation: sending Morris Peterson and Julian Wright further down the bench.

Rasual Butler, an afterthought entering the season for most Hornets fans, has taken the starting job through Peterson's injury and has done the most with it this season, playing his way out of Byron Scott's doghouse and giving the Hornets an additional three point threat in the starting lineup. Wednesday's game against the Bobcats was a breeze for the Hornets. The only criticism that should be given to the team for that game would be on those awful New Orleans Buccaneers throwback jerseys. Please no more of those. But seeing as how the Hornets have lost to the Bobcats this season, it was nice to see them stare the opposition in the eye, know they were better than them and soundly show that they were better.

Friday night's game at Boston was encouraging despite the 94-82 loss. Moral losses aren't much for a team hoping to win a championship this season, but playing that way without Tyson Chandler proved that the team has a lot of heart and a lot of grit. But when you play a team as sound defensively as the Celtics are and you watch players consistently kill you on the offensive boards, you know that Chandler is missed. But let's be honest: Chandler's been missed all season. This new injury (a stiff neck) can join his ankle injury and back stiffness this season and continues to trouble the Hornets starting center. Something has not seemed right and you can only hope it's not serious and that he can still come back and be the player he was last season for the Hornets. Hilton Armstrong has stepped in strongly in his absence but his knack for picking up fouls has left Sean Marks playing double digit minutes the past few games. Nothing against Marks, I'd just rather him be a guy like Ryan Bowen, who comes in in garbage time and is a fun locker room presence. I don't like him taking Melvin Ely's minutes because Ely is more of an inside scorer, which is what you'd idealy want on the Hornets since players like David West tend to stay around the perimeter too much. But Ely has to earn his minutes and apparently Marks has earned them.

Speaking of David West, he saved himself from a lashing from yours truly with a strong performance today at Toronto. His shooting percentage this year is solid right around 50 percent but what was a great tool for him last season has turned into something he depends on this year. He's a great mid range jump shooter but you'd like to see him take it down to the low block a little bit more and use his agility and size to his advantage. The way he played against Chris Bosh today was very admirable and furthers the notion that the Hornets can win with him as the number two scorer.

James Posey has been great this week as well and especially today at Toronto, knocking down six three pointers in the win over the Raptors. He still has yet to get into a groove (in my eyes) but I think with time he'll be able to easily gain confidence in the rotation and be able to effortlessly contribute on a nightly, routine basis.

The Hornets continue their little road swing at Memphis on Tuesday before coming home to face the red hot Spurs on national television Wednesday night before hoping to exact revenge on the Kings Saturday night in New Orleans. Wednesday night's game will be huge for the Hornets as they don't want to develop habits of coming up short against the better teams (such as Friday's game at Boston). But they can't overlook a solid and streaking Grizzlies team on Tuesday. But the way they've been playing lately, Byron Scott seems to have this team's attention. And as we've seen in a league where five coaches have been fired already this season, having the attention of your team is a fantastic thing. Until next week.

Posted on: December 1, 2008 4:02 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2009 1:26 am
 

NBA Power Rankings Through November 30, 2008

1. Los Angeles Lakers (1) - They've been number one all season long, and even though a part of me really wants to move them behind Boston, I simply can't.  They've been winning, they've been winning consistently and they've been winning with a new player stepping up every night (ironically, the same can be said about Boston).  They, though, have been great since the start of the season and I can't move them behind Boston.  Not yet.

2. Boston Celtics (2) - Kevin Garnett is having probably his quitest season.  Paul Pierce has been wildly inconsistent and Ray Allen's been a steady version of last year's diminished Ray Allen, yet this team continues to win.  Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo, the two unheralded starters, are giving this team quality starts and they compliment what the big three do so well.  Perkins' game has really improved this season.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers (3) - I hear people asking "who have they beat", well they've only lost 3 times this season-all on the road.  A mark of a good team is winning games that you're supposed to win and that's what the Cavaliers are doing.  Charles Barkley is right in saying that LeBron James needs to shut it and start diverting all of his attention to the game and to his team, but a part of me believes that LeBron is more infatuated with the money and stardom than he is actual results on the court, which is why he'll always be a notch behind Kobe Bryant.

4. Denver Nuggets (4) - Even though they had a dissapointing loss at home to New Orleans on Thursday, this team continues to chug along with Chauncey Billups in the lineup.  This past week J.R. Smith really heated up and if he regains the form he had for much of last season then this team can only get better.  Chris Andersen coming back helps, but he can't be a savior for this frontcourt.

5. Orlando Magic (6) - Rashard Lewis is starting to play really good ball (even if you would like to see better rebounding numbers out of someone his size) and Dwight Howard is improving on his free throw shooting.  Losing Mickael Pietrus for three weeks will hurt but this team continues to do what they did last year, quietly win ball games.

6. Portland Trail Blazers (9) - I got some criticism putting them as high as I have the past couple of weeks but they proved me right this week.  Brandon Roy is one of the hottest players in the league and they're getting great production out of players like Travis Outlaw and Joel Przybilla.  They're deep and they're talented.

7. Houston Rockets (5) - They get Shane Battier back and now Tracy McGrady is having problems with his knee (he's looked dinged up all season, what with his shoulder and whatnot).  They are still winning, though, and they're doing it without any of their players playing consistently great ball.  Luther Head has stepped up the past couple of games, but Adelman's system allows this team to make up for whoever is struggling on that given night.  That's the sign of a good team.

8. Utah Jazz (8) - They had a bad loss to New Jersey but Deron Williams is slowly regaining some of the form he showed last season.  It's slow, but steady, progress.  Meanwhile, Paul Millsap has been outstanding in Carlos Boozer's absence and you have to believe he's going to see an amazing increase in minutes even when Boozer comes back.

9. Atlanta Hawks (10) - They're getting better play out of Mike Bibby (which is good because teams are starting to double Joe Johnson consistently) and they're surprisingly getting great contribution from Maurice Evans lately.  This team just continues to stay around.

10. Phoenix Suns (7) - I've had this team high all season but the intensity and execution they showed the first couple of games has worn off and the honeymoon period has already ended in Phoenix.  Amare Stoudemire is now complaining about coach Terry Porter's system and the team is searching for an identity all over again.  A tailspin may be in this team's future.

11. Detroit Pistons (11) - Allen Iverson is already missing practice and Rasheed Wallace continues to jack up three pointers.  Michael Curry was supposed to bring needed change in attitudes in Detroit but the players and player styles and attitudes continue to hold this talented team back.  They should be in better shape than they currently in.

12. New Orleans Hornets (12) - A good win at Denver and a quiet four game winning streak have gotten the Hornets back on track, but they still need some consistent ball out of anyone not named Chris Paul.

13. San Antonio Spurs (19) - Despite the loss to Houston, this team is above .500, they're getting good production out of their young players, and both Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are back.  Those pesky Spurs just never go away.

14. New Jersey Nets (17) - People said I had them too high last week, I probably have them too high this week, but they're playing tremendous basketball.  Devin Harris has played tremendous basketball so far this season and he and Vince Carter have consistently been there every night.  They're supporting cast is hit and miss but they're getting a different person to contribute each and every night.

15. New York Knicks (14) - They need to get this Stephon Marbury situation over and done with, because it's clouding what's been a good season so far for the Knicks.  David Lee has played great and Tim Thomas has been lights out since coming over from Clipper land.  His best season came with D'Antoni in Phoenix, though, and his increase in production doesn't surprise me, and it won't surprise me when his production dips.

16. Dallas Mavericks (18) - There's not a hotter player in the NBA, currently, than Jason Terry and he's keeping this team afloat lately.  They still can't get consistent production out of the small forward position and aside from Terry they can't really get an answer at shooting guard either, but Jose Juan Barrera looks like a solid backup at the point guard position.

17. Toronto Raptors (21) - They turned a horrible last week into a solid week this week until they ran into the Lake show.  Chris Bosh has been outstanding this season and currently there's not a better big man in the league.  They're getting great play out of Andrea Bargnani lately which is very encouraging, though the injury to Jermaine O'Neal isn't.

18. Miami Heat (13) - The Heat have been wildly inconsistent this season and it has to be frustrating for any Heat fan to watch this team win one, and then lose the very next game but at the same time they have to be happy with Dwyane Wade's production.  This team is still relatively young and still has room to improve and should probably be around the playoff picture all season long.

19. Chicago Bulls (20) - All things considered, I believe Vinny Del Negro has done a solid job with this team.  They're slowly starting to get healthier (and will be better when Kirk Hinrich returns) but they still are an inconsistent bunch.  Drew Gooden has played well lately and Luol Deng is slowly returning to form as well. 

20. Philadelphia 76ers (15) - Andre Iguodala has played like a guy with a fat new contract, in other words he's definitely underperformed but I think with the offense having to adjust to the half court offense that Elton Brand flourishes in takes away from the strengths of both Iguodala and Andre Miller.  Maurice Cheeks needs to succeed this season if he wants to keep his job and it looks increasingly difficult for him to do.

21. Milwaukee Bucks (16) - They're struggling without Andrew Bogut but Richard Jefferson is quietly having a solid season.  Charlie Villanueva has put up good number this season but still hasn't brought it consistently like he should in a contract year.  He needs to develop a solid game and put that tremendous talent to use but he plays like a small forward and is too slow to play that position.  He should look at a player like David West and try to emulate a version of his game and then he can fully reach his potential.

22. Indiana Pacers (22) - The Pacers are puzzling because they just can't seem to get over that hump and win basketball games.  Danny Granger has been great, proving last year was no fluke, and Marquis Daniels has continued to play encouraging ball but they can't seem to get going as a unit.  Early in the season it was T.J. Ford playing while everyone else was struggling and now Ford has lot a step lately.  They need to get it together and I believe they will in the coming month.

23. Minnesota Timberwolves (25) - It feels weird putting them this high but I believe they're the best out of all of the lower tier teams.  Sebastian Telfair has been a steady force at point guard with Randy Foye and Mike Miller has had a couple of good games lately.  They won't make the playoffs, but winning nearly 30 games this season would be a huge step in the right direction for this squad.

24. Charlotte Bobcats (27) - Jason Richardson has returned and rumors are circling whether or not he will be shopped around.  Gerald Wallace has also been rumored to be out the door lately as well and this team looks to be in questionable shape.  D.J. Augustin has continued to play great and looks to be the best draft pick the team has made, which is ironic because he was not drafted at a position that needed filling and therefore his selection was criticized.

25. Golden State Warriors (24) - This team has been stuck in reverse all season long and they have to be hoping that when Monta Ellis returns they will make some progress this season because this team is young and in need of a step in the right dirction.  Andris Biedrins has cooled off lately and Jamal Crawford, though a need at guard, can't run the offense like they need someone to. 

26. Sacramento Kings (23) - This team is reeling and is doing so in a hurry.  Even with Mikki Moore's return, this team still needs Kevin Martin as he's not only their best player, he's the team's leader.  John Salmons will be a great running mate when Martin returns and if Beno Udrih plays as well as he has without Martin in the lineup then this team can take off.  Until then they will continue to struggle.

27. Memphis Grizzlies (26) - The team is slowly reaching irrelevance again and they're really struggling to find ways to win basketball games.  I don't think coach Marc Iavaroni has any chance to retain his job which is sad as he was once a promising candidate around the league.

28. Los Angeles Clippers (28) - Zach Randolph was a good acquisition and Al Thornton has played as well as he did last season but this team is missing something.  I don't know what it is, but I think this team would be making a horrible mistake in ridding themselves of Chris Kaman.  Even though he and Randolph don't mesh well, Kaman is a better player than Randolph and is a much better player than Marcus Camby.  They should find a way to keep him on this roster even though they could get a lot for him.  Eric Gordon has played great this week.

29. Washington Wizards (29) - As predicted last week, Eddie Jordan was fired but nothing has changed with this team.  They have Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and not much past those two players.  Because of the guaranteed contracts, this team is in such a deep hole that they're going to be stuck in this position for the next few seasons and may lose their best player (Butler) soon.

30. Oklahoma City Thunder (30) - The 14 game losing streak is over and Kevin Durant and Jeff Green have played great ball this week.  The offense looks a lot more fluid with Scott Brooks running the show.  Why is Earl Waton still starting and how many chances is this team going to give themselves to draft a productive center in the lottery?

 

Posted on: November 30, 2008 2:39 pm
 

New Orleans Hornets Week 5 Review

 The economy is bad.  I can't afford Christmas presents for my friends and therefore I'm assured they can't afford presents for me.  I have to take a defensive driving class on Saturday to nullify a "rolling stop sign" ticket I received nearly two months ago.  I've had turkey for dinner for three straight nights and my last three Hornets weekley reviews have been negative.  I have a college algebra test this week and finals all next week, but today is good.  Today is a day for positive thoughts in Big Easy Bugs land.  Two wins over the lowly Thunder (see last week's review) and a win over the equally lowly Clippers helped get the Hornets back on track with a four game winning streak and although the Hornets still look a tad discombobulated out there, things are at least feeling good again in New Orleans.

The first game of theweek, played on Monday night in Los Angeles, proved to be a solid victory against the Clippers.  Eric Gordon is the last in a string of swingmen who continue to dominate against the Clippers (see J.R. Smith and Brandon Roy as well) but the Hornets were able to use their talent advantage to, well their advantage, and overcome a game Clippers team.  The Thanksgiving night game at Denver, though, was the best game that the Hornets have played since their game at home against the Cavaliers three games into the season.  James Posey and Rasual Butler were huge in the game, providing the Hornets with two strong performances and hope for the bench for the future when Morris Peterson eventually returns to the lineup (he missed all three games this week as well).  All of the good will that was gained in the surprising game against the Nuggets (despite efforts from scorned former promising Hornet J.R. Smith) it was lost just as quickly in their game at Portland the very next night.  Back to backs are tough, but traveling to two different time zones in two nights is even more difficult and the Hornets looked sluggish all game.  They did a good job controlling the paint (which is surprising as the frontcourt is supposed to be the weakness of this team) but frontcourts are killing the Hornets currently.  That's something that needs to be addressed and I'm sure Byron Scott will get around to it.

Peja Stojakovic has come to life the past few games for the Hornets, serving as their leading scorer against the Trail Blazers, shooting 47 percent from three point land this week.  I think a majoritiy of people undervalue the importance of Peja to this team.  When he's making shots and when he's spreading the defense the team flourishes and David West is allowed operate down low and Chris Paul is allowed to operate from all angles around the floor.  Speaking of Chris Paul and David West, they both had quiet games against Portland and West, especially, has looked sluggish the past two games, shooting 35 percent from the field at Denver and Portland after having great games against the Thunder and Clippers.  Paul, meanwhile, struggled against Portland but followed up two straight triple doubles with an amazing fourth quarter performance at Denver and has had a steal, now, in 99 consecutive games-bringing him within six games of the NBA record set by Alvin Robertson.  Here's to a Hornet setting any kind of milestone.

Speaking of struggling, Tyson Chandler still continues to pile up lackluster performances at center.  Hilton Armstrong continuously improves by the game and he is on par with Tyson Chandler as far as averages per 48 minutes (Armstrong is averaging 14.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per 48 minutes while Chandler is averaging 12.3 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in the same categories).  Congratulations to Chandler for welcoming his son into the world on Thanksgiving day, but he needs to improve if the Hornets are to have any legit shot at a championship this season.  Also on the topic of big men, I'm surprised to see Sean Marks get more minutes than Melvin Ely this season.  I understand that Sean Marks has a better long range shot but I'm not too sure if long range accuracy is a necessity for the Hornets at the moment.  Melvin Ely has a good low post game and I'd like to see him get more minutes than Sean Marks but he's been in and out of Byron Scott's rotation so far this season.

The Hornets have two home games this week, against Phoenix on Wednesday and Memphis on Saturday.  Tyson Chandler and David West should both look to have bigger weeks against the competition and hopefully the Hornets won't let the confidence from their four game winning streak be lost with underwhelming performances this week.  Hopefully Morris Peterson, who had a huge game at Phoenix in the second game of the season, will return this week and it will only strengthen the Hornets bench with Rasual Butler adding firepower to an impressive set of frontcourt players off the bench for the Hornets.  Until next week, people.

Posted on: November 23, 2008 2:05 pm
 

New Orleans Hornets Week 4 Review

 "I told our guys, they are full of themselves if they step on the court and think teams are scared of them."  Two victories over the last place Thunder couldn't mask the obvious.  Hornets coach Byron Scott put the entire team on notice: you've gotten soft.  My week 2 worries have been brought to fruition following the Hornets Wednesday night loss to the Kings.  A home loss to a Sacramento team minus Kevin Martin is inexcusable for a team whose ultimate goal is to become an NBA champion.  In addition to the earlier loss in the season at Charlotte and Byron Scott said it best: these teams don't fear the Hornets.  Nor should they.  The Hornets don't play with that "us against the world" mentality that they had last season.  Last season they were wild and aggressive and played an inspiring brand of ball.  This season they're trying to copy that, and it looks forced.  This team still lacks its identity but Chris Paul and David West have to continue to keep this team afloat until everyone else remembers that the Hornets are supposed to be a great team.

What's wrong with Tyson Chandler?  This week Chandler averaged 6.7 points and grabbed 7 rebounds.  Normally those are solid numbers but Tyson Chandler is above that average style of play.  Those are his Chicago Bulls numbers.  I don't know if his ankle is still bothering him or if he's just trying to do too much after lifted expectations this season, but he needs to get back to playing strong defense, running the floor and blocking shots.  Hilton Armstrong stole a majority of Chandler's minutes in the teams two victories over Oklahoma City and played strong: taking all of his shots around the basket and showing an aggressive drive for the ball near the hoop.  That's very encouraging for a team that's playing Julian Wright at the 4 a lot the past couple of weeks.  But I'm not sure if Wright will continue to play the 4 since Melvin Ely returned at Oklahoma City on Friday night. 

Speaking of injuries: it's tough to watch Devin Brown go down Saturday night against the Thunder.  He's taken over as the second scoring option off of the bench (after James Posey) and played a majority of his minutes at the point guard position.  It's necessary for him to play or else Mike James will get a lot of minutes, and I'm sure Byron Scott is not playing him for a reason.  Further on the injury report, Morris Peterson was a late scratch for the Wednesday night game against the Kings but missed both of the Oklahoma City games as well.  Rasual Butler has stepped in admirably for the Hornets and has now started four games this season but the team misses Peterson's defense: most notably when John Salmons went off for 29 points Wednesday night.  They can't get by without him but he does help the team more than what pepole notice.

The Hornets return to Oklahoma City Friday night was a lot of fun to watch.  I miss the days when the Hornets played in OKC and anyone who has been on the boards long enough knows that I actually wanted the Hornets to stay in Oklahoma City.  The return to New Orleans has been nice, but the fans will turn on the team when they start losing again.  Oklahoma City fans cheered rabidly for the team in two losing seasons.  Even though the Thunder didn't add any excitement during the game (Friday night's blowout was embarassing) the fans warm reception to the Hornets players and to Byron Scott was nice to see.  I wish those fans nothing but the best, even though their team doesn't leave much hope.

For the past three weeks the Hornets have played Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday night games.  They've played 9 games in 21 days and they will again play only three games this week.  They hit the road for games at the Clippers, at Denver and at Portland.  It's essential that the Hornets win at least two of these games for their own confidence, but they still posses the talent to steal all three. 

Posted on: November 16, 2008 11:50 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2008 11:53 pm
 

New Orleans Hornets Week 3 Review

This week leaves us very malcontent in Hornets nation.  Entering this week the Hornets were coming off a very dissapointing second week, in which they lost at home to the Hawks and at Charlotte before finding a way to overtake the Heat in New Orleans.  But this week brought more of the same for the big easy bugs.  As of today, they've now lost four out of their last six, and it looks as if this team is struggling to regain the identity that it possessed for so much of last season.  The swagger and confidence that was there in April and May is gone, and this is a team playing off of expectations and habit.  A 5-4 record is nothing to scoff at, especially since everyone in the NBA has had an up and down week and they remain only a half game behind Houston in the southwest division, but this is a team that needs to regain its confidence.  Its bench, all too often a hindrance to the Hornets has continued to be inconsistent and unpredictable.  James Posey has been every bit what the Hornets signed him up to be and the price tag, at the moment, doesn't seem as high as it did when they offered it to him, but after him there's no guarantees.  Moments like this the Hornets miss the big game production and swagger that Jannero Pargo brought to the team.  Mike James can put up Pargo numbers (he put up 10 points against the Heat last week) but doesn't have that presence or command the attention that Pargo did and hasn't yet produced like Pargo did.  Overall this team needs to develop options and currently there aren't any that you can rely on past Chris Paul and David West.

Coming into this week was the highly anticipated matchup with the Lakers on Wednesday night.  The Lakers proceeded to continue to be the Lakers and took a 21 point lead into halftime before the Hornets came back and cut it down to 3 points with a minute and a half left.  That shot that Kobe Bryant hit over James Posey was a thing of beauty and completely unguardable.  But this was a problem that the Hornets had last season; first half performances.  The Hornets ended the season and played in the playoffs very lackadaisacally in the first half and the same problem has followed the team to this season.  The Hornets need to get up for games like this (especially with three days off in between them and with the Lakers being on the second night of a back to back) and with their chance to get a little confidence they played flat against the best team in the league. 

Then came the game against Portland on Friday night in New Orleans.  The Trail Blazers came into the game on a winning streak and the Hornets, though ugly, pulled out a victory over the Blazers to get back on the board.  But that ugly win was followed by an ugly loss at Houston on Saturday night.  The Rockes bottled Chris Paul and a weak 18 points by David West was all that kept the Hornets to a respectable 9 point loss.

I don't want to come across as harsh on my team but they had an awful week (even though they did win against Portland).  Their performances in these three games leave a lot to be desired and don't exactly inspire us onlookers.  Tyson Chandler may still be bothered by that ankle as he has yet to kick it into stride this season and Peja Stojakovic has been wildly inconsistent with his shot.  He's not automatic as he was last season (37.4% from the field) and he has yet to find his groove.  This all could be attributed to still being in early season mode, rust and continuity lacking on the team but it's not encouraging when you're playing this way against teams that are playing well as a team themselves. 

Rasual Butler (a favorite of the first two reviews) had a quiet week but still remains in the regular rotation.  With Mike James missing the games against Portland and Houston and with Melvin Ely missing every game since the Phoenix game, the Hornets have played Hilton Armstrong and Devin Brown heavy minutes this week.  Devin Brown responded (7 points 2.6 rebounds this week) but Armstrong continues to just be another body out there.  He needs to show aggression if he wants to keep his job, because Antonio McDyess is available (though I'm not sure if the Hornets could afford him) and there's a chance they could go after P.J. Brown at midseason.  His seat is hot and I'm not seeing the immediacy I need to see out of him.  Coming up next Wednesday is a game against Sacramento who fields an impressive list of big men.  Armstrong will need to be productive and will need to have some sort of presence if the Hornets are to feel safe with him in the lineup.

Coming up next week is a meeting in New Orleans against the Kings, a return to Oklahoma City that I'm much looking forward to and a rematch against the Thunder the next night in New Orleans.  So The Hornets have an opportunity for three impressive victories this week and time will tell if they get back to that team you knew would win last season.  Until then, we'll have to think of last season to have good memories of the Hornets.

Posted on: November 9, 2008 1:34 pm
 

New Orleans Hornets Week 2 Review

 It's been a tale of two weeks so far in the young season for the New Orleans Hornets.  After a surprising start with victories over the Suns, Warriors and Cavaliers last week, the Hornets opened up this week with a surprising loss to an equally surprising Atlanta Hawks team, and then an extremely dissapointing loss at their old stomping grounds in Charlotte.  Losing to the Bobcats is inexcusable but the loss was eased by a game the very next night, a home victory over the Miami Heat.

After the initial high of the season wore off, the Hornets fell back down to earth on Wednesday night when an Atlanta Hawks team walked into New Orleans and beat the Hornets down.  The Hawks were more physical, hungrier and more determined than the Hornets on that night, even with the returns of Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic to the lineup.  The best part out of the game was the said returns of the two injured starters.

The main negative of this week is not the two losses, but how the Hornets lost those games.  Chris Paul has been absolutely amazing this season, picking up exactly where he left off last year and has put up 20 points and 10 assists in all six games this season.  His contributions and performance just cannot be categorized into words and I believe there's not a player in the NBA playing at his current level.  But the problem with the Hornets is, they've looked soft through six games.  They've become a jump shooting team and were able to get out muscled by teams without big strong presences in Charlotte and Atlanta (and no offense to Emeka Okafor and Al Horford, they're good players just not strong inside presences).  Byron Scott has a lot to address in the physicality of this team.  The Hornets don't want to fall back into finesse mode where all you have to do is bump them around and take them out of their games, and David West will shoot jumper after jumper with Peja Stojakovic firing up three point bricks.  The Hornets need to address a lack of frontcourt scoring and that includes utilizing David West's frame more down in the low block and continuing to feed Tyson Chandler and Hilton Armstrong shot after shot.

The Hornets have no injuries to report this week minus the dental work of Melvin Ely that kept him from the games against the Bobcats and Heat and the bench continues to be servicable this season with surprising contributions from Mike James and Hilton Armstrong this week.  Mike James has fought off Devin Brown from taking his point guard spot six games into the season and the Hornets look comfortable with Mike James being this year's lesser version of Jannero Pargo

Rasual Butler Watch: Rasual Butler continues to be a contributing member of the Hornets bench.  He's used Julian Wright's early ankle injury to his advantage and has shot 47 percent from the three point line through the first six games.  In the Saturday night victory against the Heat, though, Julian Wright logged 10 minutes and Butler has to feel the pressure to continue to perform at a servicable level.  All it takes is a stretch of cold games for Butler to lose his job to Wright.  I hope he continues to surprise me.

The Hornets will take the next few days off before Wednesday's huge game against the Lakers.  They then finish the week Friday against the Trail Blazers at home before playing their only road game next week a few hours away Saturday night in Houston against the Rockets.  The Hornets have a strenuous week ahead and their toughness has to be adressed.  All things considered, though, it's still been a solid start for the Big Easy Bugs.

Top Ten Teams Through November 9th, 2008
1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. Utah Jazz
3. Boston Celtics
4. Atlanta Hawks
5. Phoenix Suns
6. Houston Rockets
7. Detroit Pistons
8. New Orleans Hornets
9. Cleveland Cavaliers
10. Orlando Magic

Posted on: November 2, 2008 9:22 pm
 

New Orleans Hornets Week 1 Review

 

The very first week was a successful one for the New Orleans Hornets as (including the postseason) they have yet to lose a game this season.  A 3-0 start is impressive with wins at Phoenix and Golden State and with a home victory over Cleveland (three talented teams), especially considering that Tyson Chandler has not been healthy for any of the games.  Hilton Armstrong played admirable at home against the Cavaliers and he's a player you cheer for, as he's talented enough to be an impact player but his mental approach to the game needs lots of work.  There were many instances against the Suns where he would make a solid play, such as a block and would then try and grab the ball to pass it and would just slap it out of bounds by accident.  He commits stupid fouls and has bad footwork but the players and coaches stand by him so I hope he plays with the intensity he did against Cleveland, and the team will be fine.

Peja Stojakovic picked up where he left off last season and you can only hope that his and Chandler's injuries aren't really serious.  The Hornets health last season was the key factor in why that team won 56 games and the southwest division.  You don't want to see problems with injuries in the beginning of the season, even if the injuries are really freak problems.  Freak problems can accumulate and become a huge problem for the team.  Speaking of injuries, it was nice to see Julian Wright get some minutes against the Cavaliers as he has tried all year (including the preseason) to recover from a sprained ankle sustained in training camp.

James Posey seems to be all that was advertised (his defense against LeBron James in the 4th quarter was inspirational and looked infections to the entire squad).  He has been a fantastic addition so far.  His and Rasual Butler's big shots in the 4th quarter against Phoenix saved what should have been a big collapse.  I'm surprised to see Butler get the minutes he has the first three games and am even more surprised at what he's doing with them.  If the Hornets get anything out of him this season that should allow Devin Brown (instead of Mike James) to play point guard and should give the Hornets even more depth (as I expected nothing out of Butler this season).

Chris Paul has picked up where he left off and has not lost a step so far, but endurance will be big this season.  His tour in Beijing may affect his play in February, March (especially since we saw him tail off in April last season until his game picked up in the playoffs).  David West has been solid and the jerseys are slowly growing on me.  Overall, a very good 3-0 start for the Hornets.

Top Ten Teams Through November 2nd, 2008
1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. New Orleans Hornets
3. Houston Rockets
4. Utah Jazz
5. Detroit Pistons
6. Boston Celtics
7. Toronto Raptors
8. Phoenix Suns
9. Atlanta Hawks
10. Chicago Bulls

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com