Team Records: New Orleans (5-16) at Portland (10-12)
Game Info: 6 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM
Vegas Line: Portland -5.5
Refs: Mike Callahan, David Guthrie, Kevin Scott
The Skinny: Fresh off a win over the Spurs on Thursday, Portland looks to make it three straight as they face a struggling Hornets team in New Orleans’s only visit to the Rose Garden this season. The Hornets have lost six straight and haven’t really been in a position to win many of them. The good news for them is, however, that #1 overall pick Anthony Davis is back in the rotation after missing several weeks with an ankle injury.
Last season: The Blazers swept the season series 4-0, it was Portland’s first series sweep over the Hornets since the franchise moved to New Orleans.
Projected Hornets Lineup:
PF: Ryan Anderson (California, 5th season) – 18.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.4 APG
SF: Al-Farouq Aminu (Wake Forest, 3rd season) – 9 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.7 APG
C: Robin Lopez (Stanford, 5th season) – 11 PPG, 5.6 RPG, .9 APG
SG: Austin Rivers (Duke, Rookie) – 8 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2.9 APG
PG: Greivis Vasquez (Maryland, 3rd season) – 12 PPG, 4 RPG, 8.6 APG
Player to Watch: Anthony Davis (pictured at right) – There is not a GM in the league that wouldn’t have picked Anthony “Unibrow” Davis #1 overall last season and the early returns looked promising. Davis stepped right into the league and excelled, scoring efficiently, rebounding well and rejecting shots left and right. Then, however, he fell victim to what one might call the #1 pick injury curse as first a concussion and then an ankle injury have limited him to only nine games this season. If healthy, he is every bit the player New Orleans hoped he would be but as for many Portland players, avoiding injuries is far from certain.
Did You Know?: Greivis Vasquez is the third NBA player from Venezuela.
Song of the Day: “The Pelican Song” by FOG-In honor of the rumored name change of the Hornets to the Pelicans we present this song which just consists of repeating the word “Pelican” over and over again to a jaunty tune. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), Questionable-SG Wesley Matthews (Hip).
New Orleans: Out – SG Eric Gordon (knee), C Jason Smith (Shoulder).
New Orleans’s Game:
New Orleans entered full rebuilding mode with a vengeance when they traded Chris Paul just before the start of last season. After beating the odds and landing the #1 overall pick in last year’s draft, New Orleans appears headed in the right direction. For now, however, it is hard to know what to make of this team other than that they are not very good. Much like his former boss Nate McMillan did prior to this season, head coach Monty Williams relies on a slow-paced game and defense to win games. The problem is, they are neither efficient on offense nor that good on defense. The Hornets are best when they attack the basket and either draw fouls or kick it out for open threes on offense and force their opponents to shoot jumpers on defense. If the Hornets can hold a team to around 90 points they might have a chance to win. If they allow their opponent to score any more than that, however, and they stand little chance.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They are focused. The Blazers have fallen victim to some lazy stretches at times this season. If they can avoid those, they should easily overcome an inferior Hornets squad.
New Orleans wins if: They make at least 10 three-pointers. When the Hornets do well, they typically make a lot of three-pointers. With questionable inside scoring, the Hornets will have to be feeling it from deep to have a chance Sunday.