by Craig Kwasniewski
New Orleans came through with a very impressive 108-95 win at Phoenix last night despite missing Tyson Chandler and losing Peja Stojakovic early in the second half.
The Suns were obviously gassed from Wednesday's win over San Antonio as they didn't match the energy or effort of the Hornets and opened trailing 14-2 at home. But that wasn't the real reason why the Suns lost nor was it Chris Paul shouldering the offensive load down the stretch nor was it all those UGLY turnovers by the Suns (which seems to be their new calling sign in the Shaq era).
What really lost the game was the 1-4 set that New Orleans ran in the last half of the 4th quarter. David West comes over at the top of the key to set a pick on CP3, freeing him up to do one of the following:
1 - Hit West for a pick and roll dunk.
2 - Hit Rashual Butler in the corner for a three.
3 - Hit Mo Pete in the other corner for a three.
4 - Dribble to the right a little and sit back as the defense rotates over to close off the lane… and then hit James Posey for top of the key three.
As long is the threes are falling, there's no way to stop that. And Butler and Posey hit EVERY SINGLE SHOT last night.
The funny thing is that the Hornets crunch time set was straight out of the Phoenix Suns circa 2006. And that's the difference between teams... the Suns no longer have consistent deep threats. This is where Steve Kerr dropped the ball. They need 3 or 4 guys who can stretch the defense and allow Stat and/or Shaq to roam the lane off pick and rolls with Nash. Instead, the defense can collapse and dare the likes of Grant Hill, Matt Barnes, Leandro Barbosa and Raja Bell to hit from three… which they can't. (BTW - This is also why the Lakers start Radmanovic over Odom, he's consistent enough from the perimeter that defenses can't just camp out in the lane.)
It's a little surprising to see a GM that earned his rings as a perimeter jump shooter completely ignore that aspect of the Suns roster. Does he always want to be the HORSE champ after practice? Does he still think he has a shot at player/GM with the Suns? The Hornets are LOADED with perimeter shooters, playing to CP3's strength of breaking down defenses and finding the open man... again much like Nash has been doing his entire career. But he can't do it with this roster.