Energy Crisis in New Orleans: Hornets Out of Gas in San Antonio

Paul AugustinCorrespondent IOctober 29, 2009

SAN ANTONIO - JANUARY 31:  Guard Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs slams the ball over Hilton Armstrong #12 of the New Orleans Hornets on January 31, 2009 at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

I had a meeting with my general contractor tonight at 6:30. We are planning some major home renovations in the near future. Grateful for my Dish Network DVR, I set the satellite to record the Hornets opener.

By the time I was able to turn the game on in the middle of the second quarter, New Orleans was already hopelessly behind. What happened!?

I watched the rest of the first half in real time then rewound to watch the first quarter. Hornets jumped out to an early lead. Looks good so far. They actually had a lead.

Down 19-13 at the end of the first period. This is close. Six points are two trips down the floor for the Hornets.

Thank goodness for the thirty second skip ahead button on my DVR. A couple of flicks with my right thumb and I am at the opening of the second quarter. Chris Paul is on the bench. Oh-oh.

And it was all downhill from there. By the time Paul re-entered the game midway through the second period, the Hornets were hopelessly behind. By the end of the second period, New Orleans trailed 57-39. It was never close.

Although the final score was 113-96, the game was not as close as the score might indicate. The Spurs seem to be able to score at will on the Hornets and come up with defensive stops whenever it was needed.

There was a lot of bad news to write about this game from the Hornets perspective, and little to write that was good. I have summed it up in three broad statements.


The Hornets Lacked the Two "E's" in "Defensive": Energy and Effort

A great defender can take away the outside shot and a drive to the basket. A good defender can take away one and do a respectable job on the other. A mediocre defender can take a away one or the other. The Hornets could achieve neither.

At one point in the third quarter, Coach Byron Scott called out and desperately asked his team "How can you let them have both the outside shot and the layup?! We need some stops."


The Starting Lineup Has Not Come Together through Preseason and Offseason Work

The Hornets started Paul, David West, Omeka Okafor, Julian Wright, and Morris Peterson. Rather than a well-oiled, cohesive machine, New Orleans looked like five kids who just met on the playground for the first time. They were completely out of rhythm with each other.

Paul looked like his usual self. West looked okay. Okafor looked surprisingly good, especially considering the fact that he dd not play in the preseason.

Julian Wright—what a frustration he must be for Scott. He displayed spectacular athletic ability and erratic basketball skills. Morris Peterson added little on either end of the court.


The Bench Play Was Ineffective

Peja took two shots in 20 minutes of play. One was an air ball, and the other was a three from way downtown that hit nothing but the bottom of the net.

Hilton Armstrong showed no improvement. He was 1-4 from the floor, 0-2 from the charity stripe, and did nothing to stop the Spurs in the middle.

James Posey did nothing in 19 minutes of play.

At one point early in the second half, the Spurs bench had outscored the Hornets bench 30-0. The scoring speaks for itself.

It's only one game out of a long season. After all, the Cleveland Cavaliers are 0-2. It just looked disturbingly a lot like the Hornets-Nuggets playoff series at the end of last season.