Monty Williams got his first chance to face his former team. The Hornets' stellar defense and Portland's energy level made sure this one was never really in doubt.
And if you think about it, cruising to a 20 point win against the Blazers is kind of ridiculous. As many injuries as Portland has sustained this year, they came into the game with the league's 3rd most efficient offense. Only the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns had featured better offenses at the start of the day. Tonight, we made the Blazers play offense like the Clippers. Brandon Roy's injury did Portland no favors, but the way our defense executed, it's doubtful an already hobbled Roy could have kept his team in it.
The offense was at times ugly, but ultimately just as effective. New Orleans scored a season high 107 points on a season low 87 possessions. On an off night from Chris Paul (though his 13 assists and 5 steals are nothing to sneeze at), the team did it through balance. Paul chipped in 11 himself. Off the bench, Willie Green and Peja Stojakovic contributed 11 apiece. Trevor Ariza had 10. Emeka Okafor had 14. Jerryd Bayless had 8 on 7 shots. And Marco Belinelli and David West paced the team with 18.
Straight to some bullets:
- Willie Green put in another efficient offensive performance (11 pts on 9 shots), consistently hustled up and down the floor, and did a solid job on Brandon Roy (before Roy's injury). I know it's tough to see Marcus Thornton in a suit. If mW and ticktock6 are driving the FreeMT bandwagon, I'm sitting on the roof, yelling obscenities. But I really do appreciate the job Green has done so far this year. His contributions off the bench have been valuable.
- Staying on the subject of actives/inactives: Thornton and Gray were inactive tonight, but two actives- Pops and Mbenga- didn't get in the game at all. Interesting.
- Peja got into the game and made immediate contributions via the long ball. I felt he was a little too aggressive in chucking shots up, but he is Peja Stojakovic. There might not be a more soothing sight in the world than watching Peja shoot a basketball.
- This game pitted the conference's fourth best offensive rebounding team (them) against the conference's best defensive rebounding team (us). Who won? Probably Portland. New Orleans averages collecting 77% of all available opponent misses; tonight, we boarded just 70%.
- However, offensive rebounding was a different story. New Orleans came into the game as the worst offensive rebounding team in the league (20%). Portland came in as the third worst defensive rebounding team and allowed us to pick up a season high 29% on the offensive glass.
- The game pace was exceedingly slow. 87 possessions a night is exactly where Portland likes it, and, as we're learning more and more, not too far from where Monty Williams likes it either. Fortunately, we've got one of the best half court players in the game in Chris Paul. Couple that with the excellent sets we run for David West and Emeka Okafor, and the reasons behind our offensive success become more clear.