Friday, December 7, 2007

Memphis at New Orleans - 12.7.07

Special thanks to Ryan Schwan over at THE New Orleans Hornets Fan blog for his assistance in this pre-game.

Memphis fought hard against Houston but simply didn't have enough size to stop the Rockets. With Darko and Stromile both out for the game the only size off the bench was Andre Brown. Navarro was punished by former Grizz Bonzi Wells as well. Simply put the team was out manned by the deep and vetarn Houston team that needed to win the game. On the positive side Pau Gasol played his best game of the season with his 23 pt, 12 board game. The numbers aren't earth shattering but when you consider that he was the only big threat on the team against a powerful Rocket front line it was impressive.

New Orleans New Orleans is coming off an ugly loss to the Detroit Pistons where they showed all of their weaknesses over the last 3 quarters of the game. While Tyson Chandler was a monster and has clearly recovered from his knee injury earlier in the season,(17 points, 19 rebounds) he was the only one playing with fire after the 1st quarter. Chris Paul re-tweaked his previously injured ankle early in the second quarter and the offense stagnated as he struggled to push the ball and get to the hoop. David West shot poorly to produce his second poor game in a row, and Peterson pulled a muscle in his back and is now listed day to day. Bobby Jackson is playing with a strained groin, Pargo is getting 20 minutes a game - about 12 more than he should be - and the rest of the bench has played very, very poorly the last few weeks. Last night, rookie Julian Wright played 9 minutes - 5 more minutes than his season high - as Byron Scott desperately tries to find a contributer off the bench. If Memphis comes out, plays physical, and smacks them in the mouth, the Hornet's wavering confidence could break again. If Memphis lets the Hornets get into rhythm, they're finished.

Zack's Corner: Focusing on the Hustle Stats

Steals. Memphis averages an NBA worst 5.6 steals per game. And here I thought deflections was something the coaching staff was stressing. In addition, New Orleans is the best in the NBA at preventing opponents from stealing ball, only allowing 5.9 per game. Not an encouraging stat for tonight. To top it off Chris Paul leads the NBA in steals per game (2.88 spg).

Blocks. Memphis averages 5.2 blocks per game. However, Darko and Stro combine for more than half of those blocks (3.3 bpg) and both will likely not play against the Hornets.

Rebounds. Mike Miller, the Grizzlies leading rebounder, is currently 30th in the NBA in rebounds per game. Miller, along with Kobe Bryant, are the only two players in the top 50 in the NBA in rebounding that average less than 1 offensive rebound per game. We are playing the Hornets, so of course I should mention that in the last meeting the Griz were out rebounded on the offensive end 15-7, with Chandler recording 6 offensive rebounds himself.

Assists. Chris Paul is 3rd in the NBA in assists per game (9.9 apg). However, the Hornets as a team are 23rd in assists per game (20 apg). Compare that to the Grizzlies, who are 13th in the NBA with 21.5 assists per game, yet do not have a single player averaging more than 5 assists per game.

Turnovers. The Hornets are 5th in the NBA in fewest turnovers committed per game (12.8 tpg) and the Grizzlies are last in the NBA in forcing turnovers (12.7). That doesn't sound promising. However, in the last meeting, Chris Paul turned the ball over 7 times by himself (and the Hornets 16 as a team). Interestingly, the Grizzlies commit on average the same amount of turnovers in wins and losses.

Matchups

Point Guards: Damon Stoudamire vs Chris Paul
Damon Stoudamire has been playing better and better every day. No longer is he the tired looking old man limping up and down the court. His shot is finding it's range and he is definitely the number one point guard on the team. Chris Paul however is dominating the league and his main strength overlaps Damon's weakness, speed. Chris Paul right now is possibly the MVP of the Western Conference.
Advantage: New Orleans

Shooting Guards: Juan Carlos Navarro vs Morris Peterson

Size is going to be the determining factor in this match up. Navarro is sneaky quick, has excellent range and a subtle defensive style that produces steals but MoPete is a lot bigger than Navarro. His 6-7 frame is going to make it difficult for Navarro to stop his silky smooth outside shot while MoPete, who is a surprisingly good defensive player, should be able to affect Navarro's shot. Statistically the players are very similar however and it was against New Orleans that Navarro really announced his presence to the league. However MoPete may want his revenge.
Advantage: New Orleans

Small Forwards: Mike Miller vs Peja Stojakovic

Miller is back in his more comfortable SF position. Mike's new found ability to drive the ball and rebound makes him even more valuable than last season. Apparently playing for the national team did teach Mike something besides how to be a secondary option to other players. Peja Stojakovic is one of the most hated players to old time Grizzlies fans in the league. There aren't many players who consistently get booed in Memphis but this game isn't in Memphis. Peja is actually as good if not a better outside shooter than Miller but he's a step slower these days and Mike should be able to exploit that.
Advantage: Memphis

Power Forwards: Rudy Gay vs David West

David West destroyed the Grizzlies the last time they played. Controlling his ability to score in the paint and on the wing is going to be the primary responsibility of Rudy Gay is Darko can't go. Rudy has struggled to stay out of foul trouble in games where he has to defend a primary scoring threat but usually that happens on drives to the hoop which isn't West's primary weapon. West's primary weapon is using his bulk to force his way inside or to fake inside and hit the open J. It's a tough match up for anyone in the league and Rudy's habit of getting into foul trouble is worrisome with the depleted big man corp. If Rudy can hit the outside shot however that exposes West's lack of mobility on the perimeter.
Advantage: New Orleans

Centers: Pau Gasol vs Tyson Chandler

Pau played 7-5 Yao Ming on Wednesday and now gets to match up with someone who can really rebound. Sometimes life isn't fair. Ideally Darko would make his return against the team that injured his thumb but I believe the Darko will play rhetoric is just an attempt to throw teams off their preparations. Tyson Chandler has recovered from his knee contusion and is again among the best rebounders in the league. That's a good thing too because New Orleans is among the worst shooting teams in the league. Chandler favorite offensive move is the put back dunk. That is also about the depth of his range shooting the ball. Gasol had his best overall game of the season against Houston despite getting three shots blocked for the 2nd straight game. Gasol's logging heavy minutes and will need to continue to do so in this game.
Advantage: New Orleans

Benches: Memphis vs New Orleans

Memphis' bench continues to shrink. Not just in numbers but in minutes as well. Kyle Lowry, who started the season competing for the starting PG job played fewer than 20 minutes for the first time this season against Houston. Andre Brown replaced the injured Darko and sick Stro. He was active but ineffective. Hakim has played very little lately (36 minutes in the last 4 games) despite Darko's injury and Stro's illness. Casey Jacobsen made it into the game against Houston but didn't contribute. New Orleans also is struggling to find any production from it's bench. Former Grizzly Bobby Jackson is battling another injury. Janero Pargo is hit or miss in how he plays. Melvin Ely and Hilton Armstrong don't appear to be the answers off the bench as bigs for the Hornets. Rookie Julian Wright barely makes it off the bench. Tough call but with Darko and Stro possibly playing I will go out on a limb.
Advantage: Memphis

Other previews/blogs:
THE New Orleans Hornet Fan
Hornets 24-7
Hornets Beat
Hornets.com Courtside Live
Swarming the Ball
Grizzlies.com
NOLA.com (Times-Picayune)
The Spread

Got a Prediction? Leave it in the Comments.

8 comments:

Ryan Schwan said...

Psst! That's Schwan. Like the ice cream. :)

ChipC3 said...

DAMN EDITORIAL STAFF!!! If I have told them once I have told them 100 times. Someone is going to lose their job over this!

I will not accept anything less than perfection from this blog. We owe our readers this as a minimal effort.

Someone's head is going to roll!!!

I sincerely apologize for this underlings error and I personally guarantee that the person responsible will be publicly flogged!

zack said...

i hate david west...if he goes off again, shooting mid-range jumper and after mid-range jumper, you can bet that the remote will be flying across the living room...

ChipC3 said...

I hate David West almost as much as Peja Stojakovic! Close behind are Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler but only because they are really good.

Hornets: 96
Grizzlies: 85

Final Prediction:
Zack has to buy a new TV at halftime.

zack said...

chip, that reminds me...

And with all due respect to SoB friend Ryan (who writes one of my favorite team-centered blogs that more people should check out)...

I am beginning to put the Hornets in the Nuggets/Heat category of hating them.

Like chip, I can't stand Peja. And now Paul, Chandler and David West are moving up my list of most hated players...

which is actually a good thing...

the Griz and Hornets are the future of the SW division and building a good rivivarly is fun...

Prediction...

Hornets 105
Griz 101

David West goes for 35...Chandler gets 22 rebounds...Gay goes for 28...Navarro goes for 22...

And I narrowly miss the TV and stick the remote through the sheetrock...

Senador Mido said...

Navarro wasn´t punished by Bonzi, Lowry was. Bonzi could have killed Navarro posting him up, but he didn´t defend him on Wednesday.

ChipC3 said...

I think the Hornets make the ideal team to be rivals with the Grizzlies. We play in the same division. We are the only teams in the division not located in Texas. Both cities are on the Mississippi River. Neither team has a playoff win since arriving in this division. Both teams have bloggers with excellent pre-game commentary...

You get my point. Hornets-Grizzlies could be the next great NBA rivalry if the damn Texas teams would ever make room for us on top!

Ryan Schwan said...

You guys may be over-estimating West. He's good, but he doesn't consistently break 20 points a game.

And don't hate. The Hornets are lovely people. Unlike Rudy and that Navarro guy. They're bastards.