'Lo all! We got ourselves another game tonight, so I will rip myself away from that freaking awesome new Mass Effect game and get my Hornets fix. It's the life, I tell you. Basketball season rolling, Thanksgiving and Christmas looming, and it's also the time of year when a lot of excellent games are released to compete for your entertainment dollars.
That game against Orlando was not pleasant - Tyson going down brought to mind all the injuries the Hornets have suffered over the last few years, but there was one thing from that game that wasn't just encouraging, it was almost inspiring. Peja looked like the Peja of old - the guy didn't just spot up, he was driving, posting up, fading away, drilling shots off the dribble, defending hard and getting his hands into the passing lanes. We may have lost that game, but Peja did everything he could to get us back into it. Ron Hitley didn't feel that bad after the game either, once it was confirmed that Tyson wasn't serious hurt.
So, on to tonight's game!
Opponent: Indiana Pacers(4-7)
Relevant Opposing Blogger: Indy Cornrows
The dastardly Indiana Pacers lope into New Orleans tonight to take on the wonderful New Orleans Hornets, hopefully tired and demoralized after being destroyed by the Lakers last night in Indy. If there is any team in the league that is as inconsistent as this Pacers team, I'm yet to see them. In their 4 wins this season, they have won by an average of 10 points. In their 7 losses, they've lost by an average of 13.
Part of the problem is they are relying a lot on Jamaal Tinsley and Mike Dunleavy. Both of these players have shown a sad lack of drive over their careers. When they're focused on a game, they're pretty good, but most of the time they just float. Hopefully they'll be on cruise control tonight.
Injuries have hit both teams. The Pacers are missing Ike Diogu, a promising young power forward who tore his calf earlier in the year, and shooting guard Marquis Daniels, who has continued his stretch of injuries from last year. He's listed as day to day. The Hornets, of course, could have Paul and/or Chandler in the lineup tonight. Or not. I'm guessing Byron will try to make them sit, but we'll see, neither of those guys like to watch games.
PG: Jamaal Tinsley vs. Jannero Pargo
Tinsley is a decent passer, but a terrible defender and shooter.(38%) He's slow, and most of the time disinterested. Pargo is a relentless gunner, though when he remembers he's playing point, he does alright as a passer. Still, I hold him somewhat responsible for the loss in Orlando because he forgot his role in the fourth quarter and jacked up crap from all over the floor, missing a lot of it. Anyways, how sad is this for Indiana? I consider our 3rd string PG to be as good as their starter.
SG: Mike Dunleavy vs. Morris Peterson
Dunleavy may score and rebound more than Morris, but his shooting touch has also been very poor this season. Peterson has been shooting career highs of 49% FG and 42%3pt this season, and last game he was all over the floor, getting tips, deflections, boxing out. He was an animal. Dunleavy will never be accused of being an animal or energy guy. Or even an effort guy.
SF: Danny Granger vs. Peja Stojakovic
I'm trying to not get too excited about what I saw last game from Peja, because he's still working his way into shape and has been fairly inconsistent this season. Granger, however, is having his best year, leading the Pacers in scoring with 18 a game and providing some nice energy defense. He's a good young player, and in some ways the way he fell to 17 in his draft reminds me of a former Hornets 18 pick . . .
PF: Jermaine O'Neal vs. David West
Non-All-Star David West, who takes on multiple All-Star Jermaine O'Neal. This may be unexpected based on O'Neals reputation, but so far, he's having a terrible season. For a big man that plays near the basket, O'Neal has always been a very inefficient, even poor, scorer, but this year he's hitting rock bottom. He's shooting 38%, is fouling and turning the ball over a lot, and even his rebounding is down. Apparently, his surgically repaired knee is still not at full strength, and that's slowing him down. Good. West, who had a bad game against Orlando, will be sure to make him chase him all over the court and make that knee ache even more.
C: Troy Murphy vs. Hilton Armstrong
The Hornets big man looked great in the preseason. He's not looked great in the regular season. He's turning the ball over an amazing 27.9% of the times he touches the ball, and he looks almost lost out there at times. I feel for the guy, and I hope he breaks out tonight given extended playing time. Troy Murphy shouldn't give him a lot of trouble in the post, since he prefers to hit the spot up jumpshot from about 18 feet. That will give Hilton the freedom to use his strength - athleticism - to roam the paint and close on Troy when necessary, and won't require him to battle a much bigger player under the basket - which is his weakness. Still, Murphy is a proven scorer and rebounder. Hilton's going to have to play well to neutralize him.
With Hilton and Pargo being pressed into starter's roles, the Hornets no longer have an advantage here. The Pacers have two good players that come off the bench in Jeff Foster and Shawne Williams, but the rest of the backup unit is poor at best. Other than Bobby, none of the Hornets backups are currently playing well enough to match the other one, but we at least have Bowen, Butler, Ely and Wright who won't hurt us much. The Pacer bench doesn't go that deep.
Enjoy the game, and Thanksgiving tomorrow as well!