Hornets End Nightmare Weekend With Loss
What a difference two weeks make. Two Sunday’s ago, Chris Paul was the early season MVP, Emeka Okafor was playing at an all-star level, the Bees had the best defense in the league, the Hornets were 11-1, owned the NBA’s best record, reportedly were going to have a new majority owner willing to spend big bucks, pulled off a magnificent trade, and all was well in the Crescent City. Fast forward to now, and the Hornets have lost 6 of their last 8, no one wants to own the team (George Shinn will soon sell the team to the NBA), Chris Paul is playing the most mediocre basketball of his career, Emeka Okafor has gone back to the player he’s been his entire professional career, and the Hornets were demolished by the Spurs, in what turned out to be the worst performance of the season for Monty Williams’ squad. David West commented on the ownership situation, and Chris Paul discussed the beating his team took the hands of the Spurs.
Hornets forward David West called the ownership issue a “mess” after the game.”During the summer we felt it was going one way, and I guess things started changing,” said West, who scored 13 points. “Who knows. It’ll be an experience I would imagine for us, coaching staff and all parties involved.”
Matt Bonner added 14 points for the Spurs, hitting four of five 3-point attempts. San Antonio improved its NBA-best record to 17-3 and matched its best start through 20 games since the 2007-08 season.
Parker, who had another strong night after failing to reach double figures in three of the previous five games, said the team talked before the game about the big deficits.
Among the times was just a week ago in New Orleans, where the Spurs trailed by 17 before rallying.
“We would start too slow, and defensively not reacting, not playing with the same passion, not the same energy,” Parker said.
Chris Paul had 16 points for the Hornets, who have lost four of five and lately look nothing like the team that opened 8-0.
“They smashed us,” Paul said. “They just beat us in all phases of the game. It’s pretty embarrassing.”
The Hornets are 2-6 in their last eight games, spoiling what had been a record start for the franchise. New Orleans gave up season highs for points allowed, opponent field-goal percentage (58.6 percent), opponent assists (29) and set a season low for rebounds (30).
At one point midway through the second quarter, the Spurs were still shooting 74 percent as a team.
“I’m not sure we’re going into the games with the same confidence that we had earlier in the season,” Paul said. “Somehow, some way, we got to get that confidence back, that swagger back.”
CP3 is right. It all starts with him though. As he goes, so do the Hornets. I’ll blog later in the week about the ownership issue, but it’s safe to say the future of the Hornets in New Orleans is now in serious question. The Hornets can ill afford to have another two week strech of poor basketball. It’s not completely out of the question to think they can. They didn’t get out to an 11-1 start with smoke and mirrors. Chris Paul played at an elite level everyone has grown accustomed to. David West played like an all-star. The bench, led by Willie Green and Jason Smith were a spark plug. Defense was the motto and identity of the young team. And Emeka Okafor was playing the best ball of his pro career. With the exception of Okafor’s play, the other aspects of how they won was not a fluke. But again, it all starts with Paul. His elite play permeates to the rest of the squad, and when it does, they can compete with anyone in the league. The last two weeks, Paul has played average ball, and by his standards, below average ball. With the nightmare weekend the team and fans just experienced, it’s imperative Paul jump starts a winning streak sooner rather than later, or the Hornets could watch their division rival counterparts (Mavs & Spurs) continue to seperate themselves from the boys in creole blue.