Another nationally televised game, another embarassing blowout. Hey, at least we're consistent!
D. Brown attempts a pass. Now replace "attempts" with "bricks" and "pass" with "layup."
It's tough to assign blame in basketball games. Losses- especially blowouts- are seldom due to one or two people. Tonight, I don't know that's the case. Tyson Chandler played quite possibly his worst defensive game as a Hornets. Including games he played injured, I've never seen him play as bad defensively. It took midway through the third quarter for him to even attempt a shot contest. It's not like he didn't have opportunities; the Cavs were barrelling through the lane at will. His lack of D killed us tonight. More blame mongering after the jump...
Other than Chandler, I'm looking at Byron Scott's defensive strategy. He came into the game looking to double LeBron aggressively. That strategy has worked well in the past and certainly can't be faulted. The thing is, LBJ came out looking to pass on every play. CLE got going from the three point line, with Szczerbiak, Gibson, and Pavlovic on fire from deep. At that point, New Orleans should have switched it up a little bit. We had Posey to guard LeBron, and he was doing a good job. What's the point of having Posey out there and still doubling? There were a couple plays where Posey was yelling at guys (West and Butler were the ones I remember) and telling them not to help. Good thing they never listened. To quote chandlerfan6 from the game thread: "LET POSEY GO ONE ON ONE WITH LEBRON. HOLY CRAP HES ONE OF THE BEST DEFENDERS IN THE LEAGUE." Exactly.
That brings us to.... who else? Devin Brown. Byron Scott: Why? Why? What the hell does he offer this team over Morris Peterson? No, seriously, tell me one thing he can do better. One thing. Rebounding? Mo. Turnovers? Mo. Defense? Probably Mo, but let's say tie. Shooting? Uhhh. Yeah.
On to the factors: contrary to what ABC's absolutely imbecilic announcing crew may have told you, we actually did a decent job on the boards. We held CLE to a low offensive rebound rate, and while a few more offensive boards could've helped us, there were quite a few unlucky bounces. Most of the damage came from the Cavaliers' terrific defense. Cleveland pressured the ball really well, and the help defense made up for the times they overplayed the ball. If the Cavs can keep up this level of defensive intensity till year's end, I'd definitely have to pick them over the Celtics. More than anything, the players understand their roles on D. The most impressive thing- this team never ball watches. Nobody's following the ball around with their eyes, something Chris Paul and David West are guilty of multiple times a game. To sum, I really like this team. I'd be surprised if they don't make the Finals this year.
Some bullets to clean up:
- I hated the LeBron/Paul slant the commentators took. They basically made CP sound like a little, bitter kid and LeBron seem like this awesome dude that Paul looked up to in awe. It started off with the way they talked about the bowling tournament, then evolved into talk about their games. I eventually ended up putting those guys on mute.
- Chris Paul absolutely could not shoot tonight. You pretty much know whether Chris Paul can shoot that night, based off his first jumper. He simply looked scared out there; on at least six occasions, he passed up totally wide open threes.
- Peja shot the ball well tonight. On top of that, he made a really nice drive to the hoop in the fourth quarter to complete a three point play. He's shooting well, he's moving fluidly, and he looks to be back. So there's at least one positive we can take away from this game...
- Posey and Paul got thrown out of the game. Paul, I'm fine with. I'm kind of getting tired with Posey's techs though. They're pure frustration, and he seems to get one every single loss. Seriously, suck it up and stop jawing once in a while. His second tech was total nonsense, but his first one was just stupid. This whole team in general needs to stop complaining. The Hornets have gained a solid reputation by now as some of the biggest whiners in the league, and it's well warranted. They seriously turn into a bunch of cry-babies when the odds are against them.
- Staying on that subject, the Cleveland PA system played the Paul "wooo" sound every time Paul got a turnover, foul, or whatever. I know a lot of you guys hated it, but overall, I found it pretty clever. Obviously, I didn't like it as a Hornet fan... but that's a cool little thing by Cleveland. They did the research on what Paul gets from his homecourt PA system and decided to flip it around a little bit. Any time you can get in the head of your opponent without violating any rules, it's worth it. So yeah, props to the Cavs for thinking that up.
- LeBron travel count: 4. Four blatant, three/four step walks he got away with. He did get whistled for one crab dribble, but the whistles went mysteriously silent after that.
- I'll end with a random observation I meant to point out after the Dallas game: Hilton's minutes have been getting slowly phased out. He had just 5 minutes tonight, after 4 minutes at Dallas and 5 minutes versus New York. It strikes me as a little odd, given how low-energy Tyson was. Is this the sign of something on the horizon? I really, really hope so. A Hilton and Mo/JuJu package has to return something decent, right? Hey, front office? Just to let you know... this works. So does this.
Well, that's that. Detroit is up next, and they just lost to OKC. We just lost to New York, so I guess we're even. Good thing we showed the nation just how awesome we are!