Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hornets continue to win in obscurity

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 2009 at 4:26 AM

click to enlarge booyah kingman

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Photographs by Jonathan Bachman

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Fact: With tonight's 96-94 victory over the Sacramento Kings, the Hornets have won their last six games at home and are 7-2 at the Arena this season.

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Not a Fact: Just over three dozen people have witnessed every home win. Or at least that's what it seems like. For all the positives to take from this game -- first time this season three Hornets notched double-doubles, Songaila was perfect from the floor, CP3 is averaging four steals a game in his last five -- the pervading emotion this game was boredom. With just over 13,000 fans in attendance (a generous number), the Hive was mostly tepid all night. Any thoughts that the crowd has carried this team at home should be taken with a grain of salt. Even when everyone finally woke up in the fourth, the Hornets had to dig deep for a win.

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"We played defense," Chris Paul said of his team's fourth quarter. "We finally bore down and defended and started rebounding."

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Defense. Rebounding. These are the recurring issues that the Hornets have thus far not been able to deal with. Granted, it was a strong defensive stand in the final 10 seconds that gave the Hornets the victory, but it was a slew of defensive break downs that made the game closer than it really was. The Hornets held just a two-rebound edge on the Kings on the night and, though Sacremento had only nine offensive boards, they seemed to come at the worst times.

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"They only had 11 second-chance points and that's a pretty good overall number," coach Jeff Bower said. "But when they come and how they come, they just stand out so much more. They hurt, they're an energy drain on your team at times."

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Bower said that he's been stressing his players to end defensive possesions. For the most part, the Hornets accomplished this (though half the time it was because the Kings scored). Right now, New Orleans has yet to show that it can play well consistently. To wit, while five players scored in Double figures for New Orleans, they got virtually no production from Darren Collison (0 points, 3 assists), James Posey (1-of-5 for three points and a rebound) and Devin Brown (4 points), all players expected to produce numbers. Lukily, Darius Songaila was perfect from the floor and made his fourth quarter minutes count.

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"It was a broken down play," he said about his game-winning shot. "We just improvised and we drove it to the basket. The defense collapsed and it was kid of a like a loose ball that was bobbled. I came up with it and laid it up."

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If the Hornets think they can get back to .500 or better by shooting from the hip in the fourth quarter and hoping Songaila is going to be there to bail them out, then this team is in serious trouble.

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