Bulls 85, Hornets 77: A Close Loss Without CP3

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 07: C.J. Watson #32 of the Chicago Bulls tries to grab the ball from Jarrett Jack #2 of the New Orleans Hornets and forces a jump ball at the United Center on March 7, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Hornets did an admirable job of keeping the game close for 47 minutes. But in the end, Chicago's airtight defense and the New Orleans' inability to run anything remotely resembling an offense led to a tough loss on the road.

It's easy to play the what-if game with David West's night- at 4 for 17, DX struggled from the opening tip. He randomly decided to spot up for a three pointer down the stretch (which he airballed), threw a horribly ill-advised alley oop pass to Emeka Okafor mere seconds later, and committed a dumb foul on Derrick Rose with his team trailing by 4 and more than 40 seconds remaining. 

At the end of the day, that New Orleans kept it to an 8 point deficit without Chris Paul and with West turning in one of the worst performances of his career is a feat in and of itself. But moral victories are still losses, and the Hornets continue to drop in the standings. 

Some further notes after the jump:

- Jarrett Jack had one of his typical half-productive/half-absolutely-infuriating nights. He actually put in a decent overall performance across from Derrick Rose; he attacked the rim often, and his midrange game was decent. But on the flip side, he rarely looked to set teammates up, and the Hornets' severe lack of assisted shots (especially relative to Chicago) was largely a function of Jack's style of play. 

- As the game progressed, Chicago ramped up its production on the offensive glass. They finished with a 28% offensive rebound rate (~26% is league average), and the Hornets repeatedly failed to come up with big defensive rebounds. In other news, Aaron Gray played just 3 minutes.

- Willie Green's 3 for 13 night absolutely killed us as well. I think virtually all of us will accept 13 missed shots from David West. He's our leading scorer, and these kind of nights happen every once in a while. Willie Green- a sub 50% eFG% shooter- missing 10 shots though was brutal.

- This game was a prime example of the support Derrick Rose has around him. Not only was Chicago's defense absolutely dominant (with Rose himself being burned on a number of one on one situations), but the Bulls pulled this game out not because of Rose (who shot 38% from the floor) but due to the offensive rebounding of Joakim Noah and said, stellar defense.

- Quincy Pondexter put together another lackluster game in a starting role. While his defense was adequate, his offense was marked by hesitancy. While it's true that his minutes have been sporadic, he also registered his 600th minute in the NBA tonight. It's way, way too early to make judgement on his future, but hopefully we'll see more from his soon.

- At various points tonight, the Hornets' lack of athleticism was exposed. On a number of loose or tipped balls, Chicago either got to the ball first or tipped it off Hornet defenders. David West's inability to quickly get off the floor was particularly notable.

- Stepping aside from all the Hornet bashing for a second- our defense was top notch tonight. Granted, Chicago is a very poor offensive team, but David West and Emeka Okafor more than held their own in the paint. They combined for 9 blocks with Aaron Gray chipping in one of his own. Chicago drew a disappointing number of shooting fouls, especially down the stretch, but major credit to the Hornets' overall defense. The effort on that end was what kept this game from being a blowout. 

- The Hornets get a streaking Mavericks team on Wednesday; personally, I hope the Hornets hold Chris Paul out for at least a week. So we could be in for another long night.

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