Game 29 Preview: Hornets vs. Blazers

Hey folks, the next couple days we are going to see Mrs. Dave's family and thus will be away from the keyboard.  I am posting two previews and two Gameday Open Threads so you can keep the ball rolling.  As always, the Diary section is open 24/7 for submissions and responses.

Because I am a fan first and a blogger second, I'm not going to check on the game results until I get back home and have a chance to watch the games myself. (Knowing the final score kind of ruins it for me.)  Look for reflections over the weekend.

A Look at the Hornets

Here's all you need to know for this one:  the Blazers' amazing streak of facing teams without their top stars will at least partially continue tonight, and we may have hit the jackpot.  New Orleans' Mr. Everything Chris Paul severely sprained his ankle in Seattle and his status for this game is questionable.  Their second leading scorer, Peja Stojakovic, out with back surgery.  Their third leading scorer, David West, out with elbow surgery.  Oh, and Bobby Jackson is out too.  That means the Hornets may suit up expecting to be led by Desmond Mason's 11.8 points per game.  Even if Paul plays, they have lost 13 of their last 16 games.  They're barely scoring over 90 points per game and they're giving up over 45% shooting.  That would explain their -4.3 scoring differential.  If Paul doesn't play they don't have anybody left on the roster who takes any shots at all who's shooting above 43%.  Right now this is a bad, bad team.  

I guess if there's a bright spot it's young Tyson Chandler who is averaging more than 11 rebounds per game.  He's almost single-handedly keeping them in that contest.  But he doesn't add enough offense to make a difference.  Otherwise they don't shoot from distance, they can't hit a free throw...about the only way they can take a game is if you upchuck the ball into their hands repeatedly for easy buckets.  The 2006-07 Hornets smell a lot like the 2005-06 Trailblazers.

Things I'd like to see:

  1.  Come out with energy.  That should be enough.
  2.  Like I just said, no turnovers.  Take care of the ball and play a controlled game.
  3.  They'll miss no matter what kind of non-point-blank shot you let them have, but why not let them miss from distance?   Pack it in.  Let's see Desmond Mason and Jannero Pargo try and hit the long ball.
  4.  The one thing you have to beware is offensive rebounding.  They're good at it and this also yields those point blank shots they can't miss.
  5.  If they do get inside, foul them.  They shoot under 70% from the charity stripe as a team and many of their good, volume free throw shooters are out.
  6.  If we even come close to losing this game something is seriously wrong with us.
--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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