29 January 2007
The 82-game NBA schedule provides that you play teams in the other conference twice and teams in your conference four times except for the ones that you play three times, just to confuse everyone. The TrailBlazers beat the Hornets twice in Portland; the Bees got only one shot at them at home. So it was important to make this one count, and they did. The Blazers stayed close through most of the game, and took the lead briefly in the third quarter, but the Hornets took it to them in the fourth, winning 103-91.
Once again, Byron Scott played only nine: eight of them scored, and six of them, including all five starters, scored in double figures. David West led with 21; Desmond Mason and Jannero Pargo had 16 each Pargo, off the bench, scored 12 in a row in the fourth quarter Rasual Butler got 15; Tyson Chandler had 14 points and 16 rebounds. Devin Brown scored 12, his 13th game in a row in double figures. (In 19 games since becoming a Hornet, only four times has Brown scored less than 10.)
Containing Zack Randolph was a priority, and it didn't work especially well: he had 20 points and 13 rebounds. Portland's Wunderkind Brandon Roy was hot, scoring 19. And the Blazers hit ten treys in 25 tries, versus 5 of 10 for the Hornets.
One noticeable trend: the Hornets' free-throw shooting, once horrible plug-ugly, is now up to mediocre. Tonight it wasn't bad at all: 22 of 27. Even Tyson Chandler, traditionally the worst from the line, got two of three.
Will Chris Paul be back soon? The talk is maybe Friday against Minnesota, possibly even Wednesday against the Sixers. Add a guy like that to a team that's 7-3 over the last ten and ... but I'm getting ahead of myself.