Three reasons we lost this game: turnovers, shooting, and officiating.
Let's start with turnovers. Chris Paul was way out of control, making horrible decisions all night, and throwing awful passes. In short, this was the worst game he's played as a point guard in a long while. Couple that with the various freebie shots he missed, and he really didn't provide much to the Hornets. The rest of the team didn't help him out on the ball-control front. David West turned into a black hole offensively; literally every time he passed out of the post, it resulted in a turnover. The Hornets finished in the neighborhood of a 20% turnover rate, meaning they gave the ball away once every five possessions. On the road, that won't get it done.
Denver shot terrifically from the floor once again. Only this time, they hit far tougher shots; for most of the first three quarters, the Hornets closed well. I know the rotations got sluggish in the fourth, but I don't feel too poorly about the incredible shots J.R. Smith and Chauncey were knocking down.
Finally... the officiating. Long time readers of this blog know that in almost two season's worth of recaps, I've complained about officiating maybe twice. No exaggeration. I HATE hating on the refs. It's generally counterproductive and comes at the expense of analyzing shortcomings of players. I've seen the Hornets in the playoffs before- many times- and so this isn't some thing where I'm just extra jacked up due to the intensity. There's no way around it; the officiating was very, very, very bad tonight. I'm probably going to put up a video of all the phantom calls that went Denver's way. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least ten. It's ironic that Denver blogs were anticipating superstar calls going Chris Paul's way prior to the series, and Chauncey Billups was the recipient of at least three superstar calls in this game. Dahntay Jones drew two "charges" with his feet clearly moving. J.R. Smith got one of those. Nene travelled three times in the first quarter and was whistled once. Chauncey stiff armed Rasual Butler and drew a blocking foul. The amazing thing was the consistency with which the calls went Denver's way and how widespread they were. They occurred at all points in the game, whether it was West getting called for a "charge" with the Hornets trailing 25 or Butler getting called for a "block" in a tie game.
There is one element of positivity I should throw in. We were down 10, having fought back, to start the 4th quarter. A flurry of ridiculous threes (J.R. from 27 feet, anyone?) and questionable calls allowed Denver to pull away in a hurry. A 10 point deficit on the road with 12 minutes left, with your superstar point guard and star power foward struggling, and with every close call going against you? That really isn't shabby. It certainly gives me hope for Game 3.
A fuller recap, analyzing individual players, will come soon. For now, we gotta sleep on another bitter loss.