Preview & Chat: The New Orleans Hornets

Kurt —  December 1, 2009

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Records: Lakers 13-3 (2nd in West) Hornets 7-10 (12th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 107.2 (14th in league) Hornets 106.9 (16th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 99.1 (2nd in league) Hornets 111.2 (28th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Hornets: Darren Collison, Devin Brown, James Posey, David West, Emeka Okafor

The Lakers Coming in: Following today’s theme of maturity with the Lakers, it has certainly been nice to see them take care of the weaker teams in the league handily. In past years we all seemed to dread games against some of the teams at the bottom of the standings because the Lakers played down to them, and while they may get the win it took a lot of Kobe late to do it. Not so lately. The Lakers have been focused early, jumping out to big leads and putting teams away in the third quarter. As god intended.

Of course, LA has yet to play the Bobcats.

The Hornets Coming in: Chris Paul will not suit up tonight, still out with a sprained ankle. Peja Stojakovic also may not play, he missed the last game due to the illness of a family member and is not expected on the court tonight.

Since we last saw the Hornets, Byron Scott has been let go. (Which led to some wildly far-reaching speculation about him coming to Los Angeles. If that was you, just stop it. Stop it now.) Scott was not the only problem the Hornets had by far, but by the accounts of those close to the situation Scott had lost the team. That would make two teams he has lost in the locker room now, the Nets and the Hornets. (Still want to fantasize about the dream job he would do with the Lakers?) GM Jeff Bowen was given the coaching gig on the theory that if he built it, he should have to coach it.

Still, since the Scott left and Paul went down the Hornets have picked up some quality wins — over the Suns and Hawks — and looked like a better team in some ways. How are the Hornets better without a guy who has a PER of 33? Team play. The Hornets are moving better without the ball, rather than waiting for CP3 create. They are running a lot more and getting points in transition. Also, in transition their bigs, like Okafor and West, have hit the offensive glass hard for putbacks.

Well, that and the Ewing theory.

If the Hornets can blend CP3 into this style of play they can be effective.

Blogs and links: Check out the gang at Hornets 24/7, who do great work.

Also, the D-Fenders won their season opening game Sunday night. There’s a new blog out covering just the D-League you may want to check out called D-LeagueDigest.

Keys to game: As is the case basically every night, the Lakers have a huge advantage along the front line to exploit — they need to do that not only for the baskets but to slow the transition game of the Hornets down. Make them keep defenders down low and take the ball out of the basket not off the rim.

The one guy that has really got to run tonight is Bynum — Okafor has been running and doing what Bynum loves to do, get down the court early, get deep position and getting the ball for an easy bucket. Bynum’s long arms can give Okafor trouble, but Bynum needs to be back to do it.

The other thing that fuels the running game is turnovers. The Lakers need to take care of the ball — the Hornets like to pressure with their small, quick guards. On the flip side, I like Collision but he has some learning to do and the Lakers may be able to get some turnovers and easy buckets.

Where you can watch: 7:30 start at Staples Center, you can choose between Fox Sports or NBA TV, or for those in their cars tune in at 710 ESPN on your AM dial. (I guess radios don’t have dials anymore, but I like the phrase.)

Kurt

Posts

103 responses to Preview & Chat: The New Orleans Hornets

  1. Since it turns out that I don’t need to cook tonight after all, here’s one for Warren! :)

    The Lakers have seemed a bit less turn-over prone this season than last season, but it still worries me a little bit. Then again, I was worried about that right before the Suns game as well.

  2. I know there’s a lot of time left, but the Knicks are just killing the Suns right now.

  3. Lakers&DodgersFan December 1, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    C’mon, Lakers! 7 in a row!

  4. As much as I hate it, I don’t think the focus will last… First eleven games were without Pau, and two games without Bynum.. The focus may have come from the fact that we were essentially a worse team than we are now.. And now that Pau is back the focus might come from the fact of having our second best player back on the court…

    Here’s to hoping I’m wrong though!

  5. 2. I guess the Lakers will take over the top spot in Hollinger’s rankings from the Suns very soon (knock on wood re tonight’s game). A rout at the hands of a terrible team like the Knicks kills your team in the Hollinger rankings. The Suns could drop all the way to 5th or even worse.

  6. 3. Sticking with the maturity line, the Lakers couldn’t get more than 6 in a row all last season, so 7 in a row would be a definite sign of maturity.

  7. The Suns lost big in New York. I hope the Lakers remain focused and put away a team early that is missing their best player in Chris Paul.

  8. anyone got a link?

  9. “Of course, LA has yet to play the Bobcats.”

    The real challenge of this season. Seriously.

    “I guess radios don’t have dials anymore, but I like the phrase.”

    How many have gone to the Drive-In and attached that dopey speaker to the window?

  10. Kobe picking up where he left off last game.

    And Drew getting an assist straight away!

  11. People were asking about lack of focus?

  12. is anyone on the lakers coaching staff telling bynum to think about passing because if they are he isent listening

  13. Is it me, or is the D a little off so far tonight?

  14. i think you have to credit the Hornets for making shots, penetrating, forcing defenders to help, getting better looks. The defense isn’t bad.

    Nice to see Bower developing his young guys. I’m glad Scott isn’t around to stifle their growth.

  15. wow aint matt dillon charismatic

  16. not sure how i feel about Jordan Farmar in the post…

  17. ohh, Lamar completely wide open under the basket, Andrew Bynum with the hook shot in the lane.

  18. @ zephid haha saw that does not do well for your burgeoning black hole reputation

  19. Does LO, Drew, and Kobe + Shannon and JFatm = Bench?

  20. not sure how I feel about Derek Fisher dribbling…

  21. What happened?

    I was out for a bit with the lakers up four with 9 minutes in the second qtr, and I come back and they’re now cruising

    Who should we be thankful for?

  22. whoa, Lamar, Pau, and Drew all in at the same time.

  23. D seems to have tightened up a bit…

  24. 22, be thankful for team defense. The D shut them down in the 2nd quarter.

    Lakers up by 20 at half, time for me to go to sleep.

  25. odom always does that thing whens he open, think about the shot, dribbles, then steps back and shoots with a hand in his face

  26. Nice. Lakers go big for the last 4 minutes.

  27. Umm, Bynum is 6-7, I think they’re happy with him taking the shots. He also does have one assist. Pau and Ron, the two strong passers don’t have one between them. So maybe we should back off the Drew criticism a bit?

  28. The theme of maturation today was very appropriate. We are a mature team. After a mediocre 1st quarter, we play lock down D and show out. Those are the Lakers that will win this year’s title.

    BTW, if anyone listens to 88-Keys, I just found his latest album. It is sick.

  29. 18. Didn’t Drew make that hook? If he has a short eight-foot shot while being single covered, I’d rather see him shoot than try a risky interior pass. Interior passing by big men is a very difficult skill to learn. Drew isn’t a good interior passer yet and may never be one. We have two of the best in Pau and Lamar, so they play to their strengths and Drew plays to his strength, which is shooting over shorter defenders from three to eight feet.

  30. Pau showing Drew by example how to pass in the interior.

  31. stuck at work….anyone have a link to the game?

  32. I’ve been as critical of Drew as anybody for the passing, but Dude’s right- it’s all relative. A few possessions ago Kobe wanted Bynum to pass on the cut but that would’ve been the wrong play- a sure turnover. Instead he passed it to artest who was open because of Kobe’s cut. Made 3. Money.

  33. Fish has been playing much better (& consistently) during this winning stretch than i can remember going back to when he resigned with the team. His stats are improved but what really matters (in most of the fans eyes) is his defensive game. Tonight, 7 Ast, 2 Ast, 4 Stl, 1 Blk, 7 Pts and some smart defensive hustle plays. He may be getting older, but his veteran familiarity with the system and leadership are intangibles that don’t show up in the stats.

  34. Magic, you know there are certain people who’ll read that and still complain about Fish. It’s a lost cause to try and convince those people.

  35. @33 Thanks.

  36. Collison and Farmar,

    Who played who’s backup for UCLA?

  37. Pau is good. I don’t know if anybody else noticed that.

  38. J. Well, I have to admit I was once critical too, but it’s was mush more of a gray perspective and not the black and white harsher critics take. I try to see both sides of Fish. He’s no Kobe or Pau, he’s Fish and you have to give him props when it’s due.

  39. Wasn’t collison a freshman when Farmar was a sophomore and the starter?

  40. J.D. some people think Pau is the best player on the team and Kobe is an overrated overhyped inefficient shooter.

  41. You know j d… I just started watching Pau now that you said something, and you are so right! He is good.

    Well spotted!

    And, um, can we please back off of Bynum a bit. My eyes are starting to cross, and my new hip boots haven’t arrived by mail yet…

    19 Points of 8/9 shooting with 3/3 Free Throws. 5 Rebounds, 2 Assists.

    Seriously, think back to the days of Kwame, or even farther back to Eldon, and just revel in the glory of an actual young, talented, true center!

    *trumpets and harps*

    Can I get an amen?!?

  42. aww missed sb blowout alley oop dunk

  43. Nice dish, Shannon

  44. Man oh man.

    We are watching some beautiful basketball.

    Everyone ealous is jealous!

    edit:

    *facepalm*

    I spoke too soon…

  45. looks like another short rotation night. Until garbage time anyway. i wonder how Luke will fit in when he gets back. I still think a 9 man rotation would be best.

    Anyone see that bit in the LA times where Sasha was complaining that he wasn’t playing well because he wasnt getting minutes? I was disheartened to see that. Bad attitude. he got plenty of minutes before and didn’t produce. He’s not getting minutes now because he’s still not producing. good role players find ways to contribute in limited minutes. He hasnt figured out how to do so.

  46. 41. Ahh thanks

    I just kinda remember that they played together hehe

    On another note.

    We’ve got 1 whole quarter to wait for a Shannon Brown specialty

  47. Are there tacos given out when we score 100 or when we hold the opponent below 100. (don’t live in L.A.)

  48. kehn, need to score 100 and hold them under 100

  49. I really like the shot distribution tonight. I hope Kobe’s ego will let the team continue to carry the load. We are so much more deadly when everyone is contributing.

  50. Sasha not getting any playtime?

  51. bench gonna blow our double digit victory streak

  52. Phil probably put Sasha in b/c the Laker taco supplier informed him that they’re running short on tortillas :P

  53. It just might be me just recently seeing A christmas Carol in 3d and seeing Toy Story trailers before it…

    but

    Hornets coach looks like Mr. Potato Head…

  54. Sasha really is playing terribly. I was embarrass for him on that last offensive foul play.

  55. Sasha doesn’t look happy, that’s for sure. But it seems pretty clear that PJ prefers Ammo.

  56. foul twice to deny tacos? haha shameless hornets

  57. Shannon saves the Tacos :)

  58. Haha, tacos came through, barely

  59. i think the secret is out on the tacos. you know you got it good when the most stressful part of the game involves tacos and your opponent is playing to deny your tacos.

  60. Joey Jo-Jo Shabadoo December 1, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    That last minute of basketball was intense.

  61. No laker with more than 11 shots

  62. I don’t know if PJ prefers Ammo. I think PJ thinks Sasha has had many chances to be the designated shooter off the bench. Now it’s Ammo’s turn to see if he can fill that role. He’ll probably get some serious burn this next dozen games to see if he can do it.

    Phil likes to use the first part of the season to figure these things out. At this point, I think everyone knows what Sasha can give. Which isn’t a lot unfortunately.

  63. Disclaimer: This is just based on the box score.

    Bynum 9-10FG, 3-4FT, 9 Reb, 3 Assist, 1TO.

    Wow. Did he have a good performance?

  64. Watching the second half of the 4th offered one significant observation: the bench needs to learn how to beat the trap more efficiently.

    Every time Fisher/Bryant/Artest were trapped, they seem to pierce through it effortlessly, but Farmar/Brown/Morrison had a TOUGH time at it when the Hornets (granted, their own second unit was more energetic and hustled better) sprung the full-court trap on them.

    Every second possession, they’d get it across with 17 or 18 left on the clock, just barely. Anyone agree?

  65. 58 Magic – hey man, that’s serious stuff.

    People could starve if denied their tacos!

    Between the tacos/no tacos and Bynum not passing enough, I’m worried sick half the time …

  66. Hahaha- great interview with Kobe on NBATV., He said he couldn’t wait to get to the next practice to teach the bench a lesson about letting leads go- and talked some smack to Chris Webber.

  67. 62. I think that’s hard to gauge. A large part of beating the trap is having a big guy in the center to help with the pressure release.

    Shannon/Jordan handle the press pretty decently when they have Pau/LO in the middle right over the half court line.

    But when you have Ammo and Josh as your big guys, those two don’t have the same experience and height. It makes it a lot more difficult to beat the trap. i truly think it is one of those situations these guys don’t play with each other much.

  68. WhiteLightnin’ December 1, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    Hornets just made a hater out of me with those taco shenanigans.

    Also, are those “boston sucks” chants I hear in the Fox postgame? Awesome. Let the hate out.

  69. btw- I’m glad I could bring the unheralded Pau Gasol to everybody’s attention. If he has a decent career after this I hope I get some recognition.

  70. Is there really a Taco Factor or is that just how teams will close games out games at Staples?

  71. No, it was all about the tacos.

    JD, I think we need to see more than one good game from Pau to tell if he is really all that special. Maybe someday he can be as good as that number one pick he was traded for.

  72. I will always regret the day we traded “soft hands” Brown for this hack from Barcelona.

  73. I think my sarcasm detector is broken >o<

  74. Kurt who did that letshannodunk website…? its clear to all of us its a “petition” of sorts to get shannon into the dunk contest.. but the website doesn’t say that anywhere.. pretty silly and won’t make sense to the ‘avereage’ nba fan. (lets face it there are only hoops junkies here…)

  75. Anon,
    I read the Lakers were going to get a website to start campaigning to get Shannon in the dunk contest. This is probably it.

  76. J (50), aren’t tacos just if we hold the opponent under 100, not necessarily if we score 100?

  77. Hi guys,

    I have trouble finding postgame interviews at times. Sometimes it can be found on latimes via a link at the bottom of the recap, but today for one, I cant find nothing!?

    Anyone who can show me the ropes (or their robe, its up to you)?

  78. Anders, two places you can find the post-game interviews easily. One is the official Lakers site, the other is the LA Times Lakers blog:

    http://www.nba.com/lakers/video/originals/

    http://lakersblog.latimes.com/lakersblog/

  79. Also, letshannondunk.com was done by some people close to the Lakers. I’m not sure if they are saying who they are, so I won’t out them.

  80. Thanks Kurt, and on a side note – the Hornets247 regularly have video analysis of their teams ups and downs, good stuff for any basket fan:

    http://www.hornets247.com/blog/2009/11/27/video-analysis-the-hornets-improved-offense

  81. Bynum had an nice comment in his postgame interview:

    Q: “How has Ron help the defense?”

    A: “Unbelievable. Ron is just a defensive genius. Scrappy player, he is gonna get all the loose balls that come his way, one-on-one defense is great. And as a team… he is talking in the background.”

    That Bynum recognises Artest´s impact and ability on D, and appreciates the talking is a great sign.

    Bynum also was asked about if he should have more shots, and he kind of just shrugged it of, saying yes, he would have liked them and believes he had a huge advantage against D.West, but also that its a deep team and that the teammates often did find him early.

    I like the kid´s attitude, he seems very willing to learn on D too.

  82. Just finished watching the game and interviews afterward, so Phil Jackson wanted the bench to do their job and not lose the game for the team, huh. He was willing to take a loss I felt with his comment and the way he said it. Wow, that would have been interesting, would it have not. If he would have absorbed a loss like that, after dominating with the starters the first 3 quarters of the game. I think he would have done it (take the loss), at this point in the season, and we may see this situation arise again in the near future, IMHO.

    Good win though, I will take it.

  83. ESPN’s John Hollinger has revised his statistical Power Rankings model to account for what he has termed “The Taco Effect”

    His new model denotes the final 2-3 minutes of Lakers home games as statistical outliers, during which the opposing team exhibits uncommonly high offensive efficiency, outlandish defensive tactics and superhuman motivation to avoid being tacoed!!!! ;)

  84. Once Luke come back I hope we will have a nine man rotation instead of just Odom, Farmar and Shannon since Phil pretty much lost hope with everyone else….

  85. themonkey,

    Hopefully that will be the only rotation we need because if one of our big boys goes down, we would see a lot more of Josh Powell.

  86. Off-topic: Rumor has it that Portland is in a big locker room feud…

    I believe its a nice topic to talk about since we get 2 days off and because the Lakers is the perfect model for this team. While on one hand we fear the potential of that team, we also now see the difference as to how and why they will not be like the Lakers.

    Brandon Roy is said to be complaining about not getting touches and he dislikes Andre Miller. Greg Oden is budding, and he loves Dre Miller coz he fees him the ball. In all this, LaMarcus Aldridge feels lost and believes that he too should get more touches. Not too long ago, Travis Outlaw has already voiced his displeasure about his role.

  87. Continuing my point, this is why the Blazers are not (and will not be) the Lakers:

    Kobe Bryant vs Brandon Roy

    Kobe has established himself as a true leader by working hardest, setting an exceptional model for EVERYONE in the locker room. Roy is still earning his stripes… although he is doing very well, it seems the things he does behind the curtains is what we do not see.

    Pau Gasol vs LaMarcus Aldridge

    Aside from pure skill set difference, the ability to shoot from either hand and the ability to run the P&R properly, Gasol has developed a sense of security in his status that he does not have to be a 20-10 guy every night for his team to win. When he gets the ball in the post, he looks to pass and create opportunities for his teammates. Just ask Trevor Ariza.

    Andrew Bynum vs Greg Oden

    Both guys are very similar in their games. While I contend that Bynum has 3 full seasons ahead of Greg Oden and didn’t have the pressure of being the #1 overall pick, Bynum also had a Kobe beside him to somehow spat his head when he needed it. His ego was always kept in check because Kobe always exceeded everything he did.

    Best of all, I give most of the credit to Phil Jackson vs Nate McMillan.

    Nate is a player’s coach, and he has to incorporate himself to a team of 24 year-olds that all want to be the alpha dog.

    Phil Jackson is our alpha dog.

  88. >ESPN’s John Hollinger has revised his statistical Power Rankings model to account for what he has termed “The Taco Effect”

    heh. too bad it’s not so.. again, this game seems almost like a L, as their rating goes *down, and the Cs {gulp} move into first by a few microlipets.

  89. Our D looks outstanding, although I’m a little bummed to not see CP3 tonight. As good as we have looked the last 6 games, none of those teams have a great pick and roll point guard. Can’t wait to see the 2 games against Utah next week. D-Will should be a good measuring stick for us.

  90. I think some people are confused about Andrew’s status as The Black Hole. TBH does not have a negative connotation in this sense; he’s not necessarily hurting the team by not passing. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the dude doesn’t pass. Would I like to see him pass more? Yes, and I also think he’d be a much better player if he gained better passing skills, especially in the triangle. But I’m also happy with the progress he’s made on his post moves. It’s something to be happy about and thankful for.

    But the dude still doesn’t pass.

  91. To add on Travis’ point

    Although Utah has been in a bit of a downswing, I also can’t wait for the Utah game as a measuring stick.

    Aside from what Travis’ mentioned on D-will. We also seem to have some problems with opposing bigs who shoot well from the perimeter. Something that the Jazz have with Boozer and Okur.

  92. Andrew Bynum: When he was drafted I remember the howls from inside and outside the team – a development player? The youngest player ever drafted?

    Since then he has continued to progress, but us fans seem to continually hold our previous dislike of the the draft pick against him. This begins to sound like Kobe; with the fans taking the place of the ‘talking heads’.

    Drew is a good, solid center taking full advantage of opposing centers. He has the hands, size, and talent to become another great Laker center – the first one we have drafted since George Mikan.

    I think it is time we call a halt to nit-picking his game on this site. He has earned it, at least for the remainder of this regular season.

  93. I love the tacos gimmick. It keeps me tuned in and adds some serious drama to garbage time. I think it’s completely legit for opponents to try to keep the fans from getting their tacos, just as it’s completely legit for our guys to try to get the fans the tacos. That’s what I call competing to the end, baby!

    It’s completely irrational of course. People pay what $100 ticket avg. Then another 10-25$ for parking, and 10-15$ a pop for hot dogs and drinks. But they’ll stay to the end and get excited over a couple free tacos worth $2. What’s more irrational is I get just as excited watching at home as if I’m getting the tacos myself :) I sure hope the free tacos won’t be deep-sixed by cost cutting bean counters.

  94. 92) Drew can be a black hole. I’m fine with that. He has a more complete offensive game than Dwight Howard, IMO. Dwight gets the nod as best center in the league because of his D and rebounding.

  95. I agree with Zephid.

    As long as Andrew is knocking down his shots, his being a black hole is fine with me. His one handed turnaround is a thing of beauty.

    But he’s shooting, tough shot or not.

  96. 94) I am with you. We can’t forget that just two short years ago the Lakers starting center was Kwame Brown. My, how things have changed.

    Those consecutive knee injuries could have destroyed Andrew mentally. Yet the guy comes back this season and shows he has worked hard on his game.

    Also, some seem to forget what Boston’s physical front line did to Gasol and Odom in 2008. Perkins will never push Drew around in the paint.

    The kid is still developing. But you have to love where he is now. He was simply looking over Okafor’s head last night dropping shots. Just stay healthy, Drew!

  97. #86
    It also begs the interesting question when Luke comes back. Who gets deactivated? The ones outside the current 8 man rotation right now are Powell, Mbenga, Morrison and Sasha. On merits alone it would seem like it would be between Sasha and Morrison and Phil seems like he’s going to take 10-15 games to see if Morrison has anything there at all.

    Here’s hoping Sasha gets sent to the D-league.

  98. Jay, Sasha can’t be sent to the D-League, only players in their first two years can go up and down like that. It will become a nine-man rotation, and Sasha will get some DNP-CDs on the resume.

  99. I like Ron’s mentality. He feels he’s the leader of the defense and is taking great pride it. Hopefully his intensity and pride in defense continues to rub off on the entire team. With Pau back and the defense playin the way it is… Christmas & January 31st should be happy times

  100. I like the Black Hole nickname for Andrew. Black holes crush everything that comes near them. :)