Archive for the ‘New Orleans Hornets’ Category

Can't say I blame Sam Jackson and Luke Wilson for not paying close attention to the action on the court. This game was u-g-l-y and it didn't have no alibi. (Getty Images)

I’m not sure what was more aggravating — the Raptors blowing a 12-point lead because they couldn’t hit open shots in the second half or the brutally one-sided officiating late in the fourth quarter that screwed over the Raptors repeatedly. This was an ugly game that got progressively uglier as it went along. I think that the officials must have decided that while neither team truly deserved to win this game, the Hornets needed it more so they made sure they got the necessary calls.

OK, now that I have that out of my system (I’ll await my fine from Mr. Stern), the Raptors would have won this game easily if Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon didn’t each have their worst games of the season. I don’t know if they were hungover or what but neither of them could hit a shot to save their lives today — Barganani went 4-for-17 in 42 minutes and Calderon went 0-for-5 in 39 minutes while the rest of the team shot 55.6 percent. To make matters worse, Bargnani only grabbed four rebounds while Calderon had seven turnovers.

For the Hornets, Emeka Okafor had his usual deterrent effect in the paint but it was Jarrett Jack who led New Orleans’ comeback while scoring 17 points off the bench — with all but two of those points coming in the second half. From the way he’s played during most of his Hornets tenure, I wondered if he had managed to have his best game as a Hornet against his former team. But when I looked up his game log I saw that he dropped 23 in a win over the Rockets last Friday. It appears he’s rediscovering the form that made him such a solid performer with the Raptors last season.

As frustrating as it was to watch the Raptors fumble away a very winnable game (with a little help from the men in grey), you kind of have to be used to this now if you’ve been following this season, right? This was the first game this season I actually got to watch at work and my co-workers were surprised at how well I took this particular loss. I told them, “Hey, this is what crappy teams do.”

Raptors Player of the Game: Amir Johnson — 31 Min, 17 Pts, 8-12 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 1-1 FT, 8 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Stl, 2 Blk, 2 TO

Hornets Player of the Game: Emeka Okafor — 38 Min, 17 Pts, 8-12 FG, 1-3 FT, 16 Reb, 1 Blk, 3 TO

Goat of the Game: Andrea Bargnani — 42 Min, 11 Pts, 4-17 FG, 1-7 3PT, 2-3 FT, 4 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 2 TO

Jarrett Jack

The New Orleans Hornets’ season has had three distinct parts so far. In the first part, they won 11 of their first 12 games and Chris Paul was receiving early hype for MVP. In the second part, they lost nine of 12 games and it became clear that Paul simply doesn’t have the supporting cast for this team to be a legitimate championship contender. It seems as though not many people have noticed the third part where they’ve rebounded to their current position at nine games over .500 and sixth in the Western Conference after winning four straight and seven of their last nine.

As they were earlier in the season, the Hornets are winning with defence. They rank fifth in the league in Defensive Rating with 102.4 points allowed per 100 possessions — only the Bulls, Celtics, Magic and Heat are better. It helps to have a solid defensive big man like Emeka Okafor and the league’s most dangerous ballhawk in Chris Paul (2.7 steals per game).

Injury report

Toronto: Neither Peja Stojakovic nor Jerryd Bayless are expected to play against their former team today, and Sonny Weems and Leandro Barbosa are also out.

New Orleans: Marco Belinelli is nursing a sprained right ankle and is listed as questionable.

Five questions

1. Do you think that the teams trying to trade for Carmelo Anthony are thinking that acquiring ‘Melo will make them an attractive free agency destination for Chris Paul in 2012?

2. Will Paul’s unwillingness to commit to the Hornets play into David West’s decision about where to sign after this season?

3. Is Andrea Bargnani making a push for All-Star Game consideration with his recent play? In January, he’s averaging 25.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game on 49.6 percent shooting.

4. Do you think the Hornets still feel that Jarrett Jack is the best player that was involved in their November trade with the Raptors?

5. Vince Carter scored his 20,000th point in New York today. Do you think this mean’s he’s a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame? Only two eligible players (Mitch Richmond and Tom Chambers) have scored that many points and aren’t currently enshrined.

Start time: 3:00 PM ET
Channel: Sportsnet One
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Linas Kleiza, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani
New Orleans: Chris Paul, Willie Green, Trevor Ariza, David West, Emeka Okafor

Today’s pregame song is “Mr. Carter” by Lil’ Wayne featuring Jay-Z. I’m assuming you knew that Weezy is from New Orleans?

Peja StojakovicToronto Raptors President/GM Bryan Colangelo is not held in particularly high regard these days. Here’s columnist Bill Simmons on Colangelo: “He didn’t just ruin the Raptors these past four years; he shoved them down the stairs, beat them to death with a baseball bat and buried them in a sanitation site.” Considering the current state of the Raptors, it’s pretty hard to argue with that assessment. But what I will say about Colangelo is that he probably executes more surprising transactions than any other GM in the NBA. Whether or not they’re transactions that help his team is another story entirely.

I was at my parents’ house this morning and was discussing the state of the Raptors with my father. I told him that sometime this season, Colangelo was probably going to have to trade either Jarrett Jack or Jose Calderon and Jack was more likely to be shipped out because of his contract. Sure enough, Jack has apparently been traded to one of the elite teams in the NBA where he’ll backup the league’s best point guard. Assuming he cares more about winning than being in the starting lineup, this is a pretty good development for Jack.

As weird as it seems to identify Jarrett Jack as the “key player” in a trade, that seems to be the case here. While he’s had a rough start to this season, the Hornets obviously see him as an upgrade over Jerryd Bayless as Chris Paul’s backup. Since Paul’s contract expires in 2012 and there might not even be a 2011-12 NBA season because of Collective Bargaining Agreement issues, it’s understandable that the Hornets are trying to do whatever it takes to convince Paul that he should sign an extension with the team. Upgrading his backup is a smart move in that context.

Read the rest of this entry »