We didn't lose this game because we were tired, because we got unlucky on jump shots, because of whatever other excuse you want to dig up.
We lost this game because we are not very good at basketball.
This team is a pathetic shell of what it was last year, from Tyson Chandler to David West to Peja Stojakovic. And I truly feel sorry for Chris Paul.
We were completely exposed tonight. Sure, we might go out and play a hell of a game against the Rockets on Monday. That wouldn't change the fact that Ryan Bowen and Devin Brown are the first guys off our bench. That wouldn't change the fact that James Posey is playing like what we feared he'd turn into four years down the road. This embarrassing loss might "fire" up the guys to go and beat Houston on Monday, but who cares?
Seriously, who cares? Winning in the playoffs is about longevity, not taking out a bunch of pent-up anger and frustration in a single game.
That 7 game win streak we were on? It was a bunch of lucky, flukey, barely-holding-on string of games that everyone interpreted as "the Hornets are back!". No, no we're not. We're absolutely not.
At the end of all this, odds are still good that we end up with a 5, 4, or 3 seed. We could still draw a Denver in the first round and rouse a little bit of excitement. Maybe even put a little scare into a 2nd round opponent like the Spurs.
But ultimately, tonight confirms that this is a tragically flawed team. It's Chris Paul, David West (depending on whether he's decided to show up that night), and a bunch of players that either under-achieve or flat out suck.
You might call this overreaction. There are 17 games left. There's time for TC and Posey and everyone else to "find themselves." There's tough schedules remaining for other playoff teams.
But you know what? Who cares? Who cares if we beat up on the Thunder and the Grizzlies and the Knicks? What, so we can get a shiny little 3rd seed out of it? So we can get home court and convince ourselves that everything will end well?
Playoff success is heavily contingent upon depth. We have less depth than a puddle of mud in the middle of the Sahara Desert. If we can't win a simple back-to-back against Milwaukee and Chicago in March, why would we logically stand any chance in a 2 games in 3 days affair with the Lakers? Or the Jazz? Or the Blazers? Or anyone?
I was on the verge of writing this very post literally ten times in the last few weeks. After wins, after losses. That, to me, is what exempts it from the overreaction label.
It's easy to sit back and call this "one of those games." Sure, but when was the last time the Lakers were down 30 to a fringe Eastern playoff team? When was the last time the Cavaliers turned a professional NBA game into a three point shooting drill for Ben Gordon?
It pains me to say it, but true contenders don't fail so spectacularly, even on their worst days.
Who was it that said, "Hope springs eternal"? Somebody better let him know he was wrong.