GAME PREVIEW: SUNS VS. HORNETS (less Chris Paul and Byron Scott)

My how the mighty have fallen. The New Orleans Hornets plight is one that every Suns fan can relate to. Sucking, then becoming a contender, and then sucking again. Going through a coaching change, etc. Of course the Hornets  descent from up-and-comers to down-and-outers was much shorter than the Suns. What in God's name happened to these guys? In 2008 the Hornets picked up 56 wins, and barely lost in the Western Conference Semifinals to the dreaded San Antonio Spurs. That team was 5th in the league in offense and 6th in the league in defense. That lineup included the youngster CP3, the up and comer David West, the tenacious Tyson Chandler, and Peja Stojakovic. On the bench was Pargo and Bonzi. That year they owned the Suns, taking all 4 of the match-ups.

But last year the Hornets were one and out in the playoffs. Tyson Chandler fought the injury bug. CP3's main target for assists was gone, leaving David West to shoulder the scoring burden, while the gimpy Peja Stojakovic and James Posey attempted to carry the offensive and defensive load.


Of course all that is ancient history, which leaves the Hornets in the here and now.  The Suns destroyed New Orleans nearly a week ago, which may or may not have slammed the last nail in the coaching coffin of Byron Scott the following day. HMM. I suppose the Suns alone cannot take credit for the Hornets debacle of a season thus far, we didn't injure CP3, and the internal problems existed beforehand.

Now, the Hornets are led by Jeff Bowers, who recently picked up his first victory against the Clippers. The win was ugly, but as we all know a W works much better than an L. One a one game winning streak, these Hornets could be dangerous. Yet after looking at the remains of their roster, I gotta admit, I'm not too scared, and I hope I don't have to eat my words (of course it wouldn't be the first time).

Match-Ups

Guards

Devin Brown and Darren Collison do not strike fear into my heart. Collison is the CP3 replacement, a rookie from UCLA who may end up being a nice player, but I see Steve Nash taking him to school tonight. Devin Brown picked up 16 points, dopwning three of six from three point range in the Clipper win, but Jason Richardson is far superior. I predict Rich posting up Brown whenever he can and raining three pointers once Brown begins to anticipate Richardson's intentions. On the bench is Bobby Brown, who evidently has put down the microphone for good, recovered from his ugly divorce with Whitney, lost some serious weight, and has now embarked on an NBA career. Kudos to him, although I really enjoyed his reality show. Another youngster on the Hornets roster is Marcus Thornton, a 2nd round pick from LSU. He has played in 7 games and hasn't done too much exciting stuff. Still, atthehive.com reports that he can "fill it up." So perhaps we'll have to watch for that.

Forwards/Center

David West and Peja Stojakovic are the only real offensive threats on this Hornet squad right now. With Chris Paul out, the onus of scoring falls on these two players. While West is capable of going for 30 on any given night, there's much less of a chance without Paul around.

Peja is averaging way below his career mark of 17.6 points per game. He's shooting 37% from the field and 33% from three point range. The injuries have taken their toll on him. Still, he has a career mark of 17.8 PPG against the Suns. While he certainly isn't having close to an All-Star season, he is always capable of getting hot and doing damage to the opposition.

James Posey is also a capable Forward/Guard who can shoot from long range, but like most of the Hornets, is struggling. At 3.9 points per game, I cannot say I'm real worried about him all of a sudden pouring in 40 to make the difference in this one. Emeka Ofafor is a quality player. He battles on the boards and is an opposing figure in the lane. But he is a waste in New Orleans. He is averaging a career low in points and rebounds per game. It's fairly clear he hasn't assimilated in New Orleans and it's too bad. At the Hive is speculating he could be dealt. I'd love to have him on the Suns.

 

How many of you knew Sean Marks was still playing in the NBA? Gotta admit I had no clue. He's a Hornet as is Ike Diogu. Will either make any difference? Will either see any playing time. Doubt it. Diogu though makes me wonder. He's now on his fourth team in four seasons. The former Arizona State product was the 9th pick by the Warriors in the 2005 draft. What's the deal? Are the Warriors that awful at scouting college talent, or is Diogu just not NBA caliber.  I know he's struggled through some injuries, but to be picked 9 and amount to nothing is kind of odd in this day and age. I realize it happens....Oh well, best of luck Ike...

Predictions

Unless the whole Suns team suffers food poisoning, I don't see us losing this one. In fact I'm predicting a blow out. I don't like to make such predictions, so I'm knocking on wood, but really, the Hornets are down and out. CP3 is the engine that makes the Hornets go, and he's gone. At this point they have no suitable replacement for him. And while Peja, West, and Posey are capable scorers, someone has to consistently get them ball. While opponents had to worry about CP3 taking the ball to the rim and shooting from the outside, they also had to concern themselves with him feeding the scorers. Forget about all that, there's no way we should lose this game.

Pregame Links

Suns-Hornets Preview

At The Hive

Suns Stats

Hornets Stats

 

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