Photograph by Jonathan Bachman
For just a moment during the Hornets' 113-96 loss to the Knicks tonight, it seemed like New Orleans was finally putting all the pieces in place. It was around the time they scored a season-high 62 first-half points and, with a 16-point lead, they seemed completely in control.
And this, boys and girls, is why you have to play four quarters. The Hornets were out-scored 60-34 in the second half by an 8-win Knicks team that basically just waiting for the Lebron James sweepstakes to begin in the offseason. It was a result of a scoring drought by the Hornets (they didn't score a basket in the last 4:56 of the game) and just ridiculous shooting by the Knicks (they shot 60% from the floor in the fourth quarter, including six-of-nine from three-point range). Mostly though, tonight's loss was due to the Hornets defense (or rather, lack thereof).
"Our defense tonight was unbelievable," Chris Paul said. "We've had a few games where our defense was good. Tonight it was horrible."
For a team that built its reputation on defense under Byron Scott, the recent breakdowns seem appalling. But really, this is a trend that goes back to last season when the Hornets seemed like they couldn't put a win streak together to save their lives. Now, David West says that he feels the same frustration.
"This was a big game for us because we're fighting to get to .500 and stay on the right side of the win column," he said. "We just took a step back and obviously with the NBA there's always another game, but it doesn't get any easier."
The Hornets have made a terrible habit of shooting themselves in the foot right they seem to be putting the pieces together. As West said, there are more games coming up. But for a team that's been struggling with the worst teams in the NBA, one has to wonder if the upcoming games will make things worse before they get better.
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