The Hornets (39-30, 23-10) look to recover from their embarrassing loss to the Nuggets against the Suns (33-32, 15-17 away). The Hornets were bombarded by threes Monday night against Denver; fortunately, the Suns are on a three game losing streak that has seen them go ice cold from three. Steve Nash missed the last two of those losses, but he should be ready to go tonight- keep an eye on him to see if the rust effects him at all. Channing Frye, the sharp shooting big man, will miss tonight's game, which could be big for a Hornets team that has some trouble defending big men who can strech the floor. The two teams have already met once this season, with the Suns building up a lead and then holding on as the Hornets staged a pretty furious comeback- final score = Suns 104, Bees 102.
Chris Paul vs Steve Nash
A matchup of two of the elite PGs in the league, Nash has shown no signs of slowing down despite turning 37 in February. Both tend to bring their A games when matched up against each other. In their first game, Nash had 10 points and 15 assists while CP3 had 26 and 12. I'd look for similar numbers from both tonight.
Oak vs Marcin Gortat
I always though Gortat was underutilized backing up Dwight Howard in Orlando, and I know both Mason and I were rooting for the Hornets to trade for him. As a relatively athletic big man who can run the floor, rebound, and finish, I thought he would have been a great complement to CP3. Alas, he went to the Suns. With Frye out, he should get big minutes for the Suns. Even when Frye was playing, Gortat gets decent minutes. In the first meeting between the two, Gortat had 24 minutes and annihialted the Hornets during them- 25 points on 9 of 10 shooting, plus 11 boards. For the Hornets to win tonight, Oak needs to clamp down on Gortat. He doesn't need to completely shut him down, but he does need to hold him to something more along the lines of 16 points on 7 of 14 shooting and 10 boards in 40 minutes.
X-Factor- Trevor Ariza
The first time these two teams met (in late January) was in that brief stretch where Ariza fooled us into thinking he was a competent offensive player. He had 16 points on 7 of 15 shooting plus 7 boards. If he's really the only player on the Hornets capable of running the floor with CP3, and against a Suns team that likes to run, he could be a big part of our game plan on both ends. Let's see if he's up to the challenge.
The Hornets are 5 point favorites. I like the Hornets to win, but I think this game will be a close one, especially given the Hornets defensive struggles against the Nuggets. Expect a high scoring, close fought game. Both PGs will be brilliant, but CP3 will pull it out for the Hornets this time.
Hornets 106, Suns 103