The New Orleans Hornets lost to the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night at the New Orleans Arena, 105-91.
The Clippers found success in their backcourt, their shooting guards blasting the Hornets from the perimeter. They shot 45% from downtown, landing 13 three-pointers. Los Angeles was also successful at drawing fouls off the dribble, and shot 24-for-28 from the charity stripe; the Hornets committed 25 personal fouls over the course of the evening.
The Hornets kept the contest close for most of the first half, trading the lead 14 times with the Clippers. With less than a minute left before halftime the Clippers exploded from downtown, hitting three three-pointers in less than 43 seconds and extending their lead, 56-48, before the break. L.A. guards Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler combined for 17 points and five three-pointers in the second quarter alone. In total Billups scored 11 total points and Butler scored 13 points against the Bees.
Chris Paul, the Clippers point guard and former Hornet, terrorized New Orleans’ ball handlers on both sides of the court. Hornets guards Brian Roberts and Eric Gordon left the game with four fouls apiece. Greivis Vasquez left with five fouls and scored no points for the first time this season, only taking two shots in 27:50 of play. Paul scored six of his total 16 points from the free-throw line, passed out nine assists and snagged four steals.
“They [the Hornets] play hard, they’re in every game that they play every night; I watch them all the time,” Paul said after the game. “They execute and they’re going to be fine with those young fellas. Anthony Davis had a great game and Greivis Vasquez will lead them.”
Davis scored 19 points and had nine rebounds.
The Hornets rallied after the halftime break, outscoring the Clippers 29-23 in the third quarter and closing the deficit to two points, 79-77, before the final period. But New Orleans couldn’t keep pace in the fourth. They continued to be plagued by fouls, and were unable to find any offensive grip as the Clippers pressed the attack. L.A.’s reserves scored 20 points of the bench in the final quarter, both Matt Barnes and Eric Bledsoe exploiting the Hornets’ weak perimeter defense with clutch three-pointers.
“I thought that we got it back in the third quarter because we just played hard. I thought the third quarter was the only time tonight when we played Hornets basketball. Outside of that we were spotty at best, so it’s not a step back for us. I just thought that we kind of lost the identity that we had consistently throughout tonight’s game. Make no mistake about it; we just played a playoff team that really knows how to play.” said Monty Williams after the game.
The Hornets (25-47) host the Miami Heat (56-15) on Friday.
Paul pretty much handed out his entire wardrobe to the New Orleans fans on the way to the locker room, going so far as to remove the insoles from his shoes.
Hornets owner Tom Benson and his wife Gayle made a point of stopping for a brief chat with CP3 before they both left the court.