Saturday, November 14, 2009

The first game is the hardest

Posted By on Sat, Nov 14, 2009 at 4:33 AM

Anyone who expected the Hornets to play like a completely different team tonight after Byron Scott was fired as head coach was sadly dissapointed (and, frankly, has unrealistic expectations). The Hornets lost to the Portland Trailblazers 86–78 in front of a listless 14,742 fans. Seemingly, it's the same old story for New Orleans but a keen observer will see that there were many positives to take away from this game.

(OK, we can't really go on without addressing the Chris Paul ankle injury. In basketball, as in life, you need healthy ankles to move efficiently. Depending on the severity of the sprain, this may just add to the Hornets' woes. on the other hand, it could open the door to an unproven and untested group of bench players hungry to get their chance. Last seen, Paul left the Arena in crutches with his ankle completely immobilized. I'll let all you arm-chair doctors figure out what that means.)

But on to the positives: Darren Collision and Marus Thornton combined for 38 points off the bench after barely seeing any floor time all season (you think Byron Scott would still have a job if they had seen more action early on?) and both shot better than all Hornets players except for David West (7-of-13 for 15 points). The Hornets also had 17 assists to just nine turnovers which is a departure from the laissez-faire careless possesions that plagued this team recently.

OK, so there weren't that many positives to look at. New Orleans was killed on the boards, getting out-rebounded 60 to 40 and they shot miserably from the floor at just over 36%. And, again, the Hornets lost Chris Paul, the only player capable to taking this team back to prominence regardless of who is calling the plays. The upcoming schedules isn't doing the team any favors, either. With four of their next five games against teams expected to make the playoffs this year, this season might get worse before it gets better.

The upside? Despite the poor offensive showing, the Hornets played one of the Western Conference's best teams pretty close. As head coach Jeff Bower (still weird typing that) said, "we kept fighting." The Hornets may have given up on their old coach and his schemes long ago, but they haven't lost their pride. With 70+ games left, we'll see just how much character this team has.

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