Bench marks

So you’re getting ready to play the Phoenix Suns, who have won 56 of 75 games, and you’re missing your starting center, your starting point guard, and your chief cutter, all of whom were beaten up in the last game. What do you do?

The Hornets shuffled the lineup, or what was left of it: Jannero Pargo started at the point, Rasual Butler at small forward, Marc Jackson in the middle, and while they probably weren’t going to win this one anyway, they actually did win three of the four quarters by two points, and if they hadn’t fallen behind by 14 in the first quarter, they might have pulled it off. As it stands, though, they lost by eight, 103-95.

And all the starters finished in double figures, led by David West with 17 and Marc Jackson with 16. The Bees actually outshot the Suns from beyond the arc (7 of 17), but the Phoenix offense, paced by Leandro Barbosa with 26 including six treys — aside from Barbosa, the Suns were 2-21 shooting the 3-ball — was overpowering when it had to be. Steve Nash concentrated on support, but still got the double-double: 15 points, 12 dimes.

Tomorrow night in Minnesota, and it’s not a whole lot colder there than it is here. With six games to go, the Hornets are three games out of a playoff spot: not mathematically eliminated, but not in an encouraging position either.





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