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Game 42 Preview: Blazers vs. Hornets

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By the fourth time you've played a team in a season you have a pretty good idea who they are, so I'm going to give a brief synopsis of the Hornets:

--They are a very good distance shooting team

--They never turn the ball over

--Because most of their offense comes off of jump shots, isolation posts, or offensive rebounds they don't draw many fouls.

--They will hit their charity tosses when they do get fouled

--Chris Paul is everything to them.  He keys the shooters and sets up the big men

--Chandler and West can rebound, especially on their offensive end

--Scoring power forward David West can make mincemeat out of us if we're not careful

--We have been in the head of Tyson Chandler a little bit this year which is good, because without him playing focused their defense is softer than Jell-o in a tanning bed

--Their bench is as weak as a forty-nine cent cocktail

However the between-the-line aspects of the game are as interesting as the matchups:

  1.  Having beaten them twice already, there's a large bullseye on our uniforms right now.
  2.  Adding spice to that is the fact that both teams keep flirting with playoff seeds that would have them meeting in the first round.
  3.  The games so far this season have been physical, bordering on nasty.  Seeing Przybilla-Chandler IV would be worth the price of admission alone.
For these reasons it's going to be a BIG challenge for us to win the game tonight.  In fact this being the 7th game of a 7-game road trip I don't see much hope of it.  But then again the last time I said that was when we played the Nuggets in Denver and guess what?

What I'd Like to See

  1.  The #1 most important thing is to close out on their shooters!  I supposed you were expecting me to mention Paul or West because they're both deadly but I suspect we can absorb monster games from one or both and still have a chance.  However if Peterson and Stojakovic are raining threes on our heads the whole floor is going to free up and it will be open season on the rim we're defending.
  2.  Important Thing #1a is to not let them dominate the offensive glass!  This is shaping up to be a real problem the way we've been playing lately.  Chandler and West will KILL you if you don't box out.  This will become doubly difficult if we're playing a lot of zone.
  3.  We must exploit the defensive weaknesses of their wing players.  That means driving past them and either getting short, open jumpers or taking it right into the chest of Tyson Chandler and fouling him out.  If we come out passive, either by not driving or by putting it up weak around the rim, we will be in trouble.
  4.  Handling Chris Paul is a major problem.  The first step is not letting him run out at all.  Get back in transition and stay in front of him.  He can score a ton but that alone won't beat us.  That means Step Two is employing the Gandalf defense: "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!"  Outside of West, who can make some nifty moves on his own, if he doesn't feed guys on this team they don't score.
  5.  Our second unit, and in particular Travis Outlaw, come made-to-order to play against theirs.  We need a very strong showing from Trout at least, plus at least a couple of Jack, Jones, Sergio, and Frye.
  6.  Please, please, PLEASE can we come out with some intensity to start the game?
--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

P.S.  Here's the Hornet247 Preview.

P.P.S.  The Jersey Contest Form for this game is two posts below this one.