Well, where to begin? The overall record still looks reasonably spiffy, but the Hornets look bad right now.
It feels weird to blame Chris Paul at the end of a loss. For more than half a decade, the blame has almost always been rightfully directed elsewhere. But our current offensive woes start and stop with him. On a night the team missed David West, we needed him to step up and take over the scoring load. Instead, he deferred and deferred and deferred until it was far too late. When he did start putting up shots as the game wound down, he scored almost at will. That just makes it so much more exasperating. The overall numbers look fine, but anybody that watched this game will tell you that Chris Paul let the Hornets down.
All of that was compounded by New Orleans' decision to run with New York. The overall possessions count was driven down by a slower fourth quarter, but the Hornets averaged almost 25 possessions over the first three quarters. The Hornets ran up and down the floor to execute their awful "plays," only to see the Knicks score with ease on the other end.
And with that, we come to the defense. By my count, New York took 22 open threes tonight (by open, I mean the close out was way too late to make the shooter alter the shot). When that happens, it doesn't even matter how many go in; it's a total failure. The Hornets deserved to get blown out by more than they did. The rotations were poor throughout the game. The most egregious part was that even after some New York shooters showed early that they could knock down deep shots (most notably Shawne Williams), the Hornets didn't even try to adapt.
The defense on Amar'e was even more atrocious. I understand that the Hornets do not possess a defender that can defend him one on one. David West's absence didn't help matters. But that's no excuse for allowing 34 points on 22 shots. The Hornets rarely brought enough help, and when they did, New York simply moved the ball to the open three point shot. Poor effort from the team was complemented by an even worse defensive strategy from Monty Williams. Again, it's no surprise the Knicks made us pay.
I think Caleb's message from a couple days ago is still valid, so I'll refrain from making any sweeping statements about the direction of this team, etc. But we don't look good right now on either side of the ball.
If there's one thing that needs to be addressed above all else? It's the shot distribution. Bad shooters are taking too many shots for this team; good shooters aren't taking enough. The factors leading to the distribution are certainly more complex, but that's essentially what the team's offensive struggles boil down to.
So, who's excited to play in San Antonio on Sunday!?