It wasn't as catastrophic as it sounds, thankfully, as Paul was able to return to the game and played 32 minutes. He did seem to be slowed by the injury a bit, but he managed to draw some fouls (much to Royce Young's delight I'm sure!) and hit some shots. On the other hand, he finished with just 5 assists to 3 turnovers and was just 1-4 in the second half. It wasn't one of Paul's better nights. As for Ariza, he went out in the third quarter. Would it have made a difference had he stayed in the game? I don't know, honestly. Ariza was offering nothing offensively (as usual), and Durant was scoring on anyone and everyone. That's the story of the game really. The Hornets hung in the game for long stretches due to turnovers by OKC and the occasional stretch of efficient offense, but Durant was simply too much to overcome. 43 points on 19 shots (mind is blown), 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 2 turnovers. That was a truly incredible performance.
On to some bullet points
- Ariza's absence meant Quincy Pondexter got thrown into the fire to guard Kevin Durant. As I stated, no one was stopping Durant tonight. Otherwise, Quincy looked great. Monty needs to find this kid some minutes.
- Marco Belinelli's role continues to decrease. He logged 18 minutes tonight but some of that was garbage time. My only issue with restricting Marco's playing time is that Marco is, aside from CP, this team's only consistent three-point shooter. I suppose David Andersen could be another option if he gets the playing time and the same goes for Pondexter. Marcus Thornton *should* be an option but has obviously struggled with consistency. All I know is that this offense needs more outside shooting.
- Props to David Andersen for a solid game. 13 points on 6-8 shooting, including 1-2 from three, and a nice block.
- Jarret Jack. Hmm. Anyone know if Antonio Daniels is available?
- David West put up a seemingly impressive line of 20 points and 15 rebounds, but those 20 points were a struggle (8-19). He's working hard, but he hasn't played quite as brilliantly lately as he was doing a couple weeks back. Fluctuations are to be expected of course.
- As lsuhornet pointed out in the game thread, Monty employed a zone defense down the stretch. The result was Willie Green matched up on Kevin Durant. You can guess what happened there. Durant was already on fire, and Green certainly wasn't going to slow him down.
- Can we have Serge Ibaka on our team please?
- The elite Hornets defense hasn't looked as impressive the past few games, and if both Ariza and Emeka miss time together, it could really slide. If Chris Paul has to miss time? Let's not think about that one. The Hornets need to hold on as best they can until they get healthy again.