Overview: After falling behind by as many as 19 points, the Cavaliers were able to compete with the Hornets in the fourth quarter before New Orleans ultimately put the game away. David West absolutely decimated the Cavaliers with 34 points on only 20 shots, and Marco Belinelli added 20 more for the Hornets.
This game wasn’t nearly as close as the final score would indicate, but it could have been a lot worse. The Cavs were able to survive David West absolutely DECIMATING J.J. Hickson inside early because they were hitting their threes and the Hornets were missing theirs.
Then Marco Belinelli hit some threes in transition and semi-transition, and things escalated very quickly. West and Jason smith hit jumpers, Paul got to the rim, west destroyed Hickson one more time, and before you knew it the Hornets were up by 19. The Cavs were never really back in it after that, but give them credit for pulling it together a little bit after some moments when it looked like the Cavs were getting ready to check out. (Two flagrant fouls on David West in one quarter, letting Belinelli drive to the rim after he got the defensive rebound.)
The Cavs moved the ball until the bitter end, and actually managed to cut the lead to single-digits when they hit a few threes, but it was too late.
Some individual notes:
– I don’t want to lead with a negative bullet, but this was a major setback game for J.J. Hickson. He provided absolutely no resistance to David West whatsoever, and David West ain’t Pau Gasol. When West wanted to score on Hickson, he got layups every single time except for two — Hickson “forced” West into taking a type of floater once (he made it), and West decided to pull up and drain a jumper over J.J. once. The rest of the Cavs didn’t do a great job on West, but at least they provided some resistance. A performance I’m sure J.J. and coach Scott are very eager to forget.
– Good game from Sessions, who definitely avoided doing too many Evil Ramon things against New Orleans. He drove when there were actually lanes, pushed the break, and made some really gorgeous passes, including a lob to Jamison in the post that was an absolute work of art. I have never been more confused by an NBA player than I am by Ramon Sessions on a game-to-game basis.
– Mo looked tentative, and Chris Paul is not a good guy to be tentative against. Five turnovers in 21 minutes of play is not a good thing.
– It took a while, but Emeka Okafor is a force in the paint. He made some really good contests on the Cavs’ big men early, and they didn’t look comfortable under the basket for the rest of the game. Jamison was 2-7 from inside the arc, Hollins was 1-5, Hickson was 2-8, and Andy was 4-14. Again, not good stuff. Some of the shots inside were ones the Cavs’ bigs normally convert, but you could see visions of Okafor and the rest of the Hornets’ bigs dancing in their heads. Give credit where it’s due — this New Orleans team knows how to defend the rim.
– Everybody realizes that Chris Paul has made both Rasual Butler and Marco Belinelli look like legitimate, even good, starting NBA shooting guards, right? How amazing is that? Belinelli sure does love all the open looks he’s getting because of Paul.
– Chris Paul is so good. I thought the Cavs did an amazing job shutting down the high pick-and-roll, but he got his 15 and 10 by forcing turnovers, pushing the break when it was there, feeding David West, and never losing track of his shooters. I think the Cavs did about a good a job on him as you can do in the half-court, and he still did damage.
– Jamison was great from beyond the arc, but one bad thing about his signature wonky shots from the paint is that some of them aren’t very high-percentage looks, but there’s no way he can actually realize that because he has to shoot them so fast. I love the flip shots from right around the basket, but sometimes I wish he’d be a little more patient and use his feet to set up shots a bit more.
– Bright spot: Joey Graham, who once again looked very solid before getting tossed.