Open Thread: Regular Season Game 56

[editor's note, by Pradamaster]Jake has the weekend off, but he still posted this a few days ago, so we apologize if the information isn't quite up to date. -mp

The essentials:
Wizards 26-29 at Hornets 37-18
8 p.m.
New Orleans Arenas
CSN

Last Year:
January 12: Hornets 104, Wizards 97
March 17: Wizards 125, Hornets 103

Notable Hornets numbers this season:
6th in expected winning percentage (.683)
25th in pace factor (88.4 possessions per game)
9th in offensive efficiency/offensive rating (112.1)
6th in defensive efficiency/defensive rating (106.1)

Key links (drop any other in the comments)
Hornets 24/7
At the Hive

Starting Lineups:
Hornets
PG: Chris Paul
SG: Morris Peterson
SF: Peja Stojakovic
PF: David West
C: Tyson Chandler

Wizards
PG: Antonio Daniels
SG: DeShawn Stevenson
SF: Andray Blatche
PF: Antawn Jamison
C: Brendan Haywood

Tonight's Lines
Wizards at Hornets: Hornets by 10.
Over/Under on Total Scoring:195 points.

The best contending team that you probably haven't watched this season: The Hornets find themselves on top of a division that had 3 of the top 5 teams in the West last season, including the defending champs and a team that went 67-15 last year.  I know they're also on top of the entire Western Conference, but for some reason the leading the Southwest seems like the bigger accomplishment to me.  This is what not winning a division title in a quarter century will do to a fan's mindset.

The New Buzz in Town:  The Hornets made a move to bolster their bench before the trade deadline, sending Bobby Jackson to Houston for Bonzi Wells and Mike James.   Hornets 24/7 has a good breakdown of the trade here that's worth a read.

Billy Knight is an honorary Hornet for life: Simply put, Chris Paul is destroying everyone (except Deron Williams) in the NBA.  When you talk about stopping the Hornets, you have to start with number 3.  I could go on and on about how good he is, but I'm sure you've all heard it before.  One thing worth noting is that AD still has a higher assist ratio than CP3, so we've got that going for us.  Then again, Paul leads the league in steals with almost 3 a game so Daniels better keep an eye or three on the ball.

Other keys to the game: Defensively, Peja fits the billing for a Wizards killer, so they'll need to key in on him to make sure they prevent a bunch of kick outs from Paul to Peja.  Haywood is going to need a strong game as he faces off against the best offensive rebounder in the game, Tyson Chandler.

Addenum, by Pradamaster: A look at that pace number might surprise you. With Chris Paul, the "one-man fast break," it's odd to see that they're one of the slowest teams in the league, but they are.

Save for perhaps Utah, no team in the league runs more pick and rolls (or pops) than the Hornets, which doesn't bode well considering we couldn't stop a pick and roll if a sixth grade team ran it. Chris Paul is the league' best decision maker on those plays, and you have to be alert for Tyson Chandler cutting down the lane or David West popping to an open spot. And if you collapse, Morris Peterson and the aforementioned Peja will rain threes on your defense all day. Simply put, it takes a disciplined defense to stop New Orleans' half-court attack, and I wouldn't classify us that way.

The key is on the other end. We have to make Tyson Chandler guard a man instead of letting him roam on the weakside. Brendan Haywood has to be big tonight, and we have to give him plenty of touches. New Orleans is a very disciplined defense team, but other than Chandler, they aren't super-imposing. They just beat you with tough man defense, so it's important for us to get the ball inside to Haywood and Jamison, force double teams, and create our own open looks.

This is an open thread, so all of you wannabes that think you can top Chris Paul's world record can brag about your half court shooting exploits here.  

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