Preview: New Orleans Hornets (0-0) at Phoenix Suns (0-0)


New Orleans Hornets 85, Phoenix Suns 84

Hornets

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Suns

The New Orleans Hornets could be battling this season just to keep their heads above water and out of the cellar in the Western Conference.

But even after the Chris Paul trade rocked the roster from the year prior, the Hornets don’t think they should be counted out, and they’ll get their first true test against the Phoenix Suns tonight at 7 p.m. in US Airways Center.

“I’m sure a lot of people are counting us out,” Hornets power forward Carl Landry told the Associated Press. “We’ve got guys that want to be good players in this league and they come and practice hard every day, and I’m sure it will have a carry-over into game situations.”

The Hornets don’t have anyone older than 29 on their roster nor a franchise player, but nonetheless, their revamped team could test the Suns, especially on the interior. New Orleans runs outs bruisers Landry and center Emeka Okafor along with former Los Angeles Clippers big man Chris Kaman.

Phoenix’s big men will be tested this game, and head coach Alvin Gentry is tasked with determining how to dole out minutes.

The improvement of Phoenix center Robin Lopez from last season will be put on display, as will the seriousness of a broken thumb to fellow center Marcin Gortat. The 7-footer said he’ll play despite not being able to dunk. He also told Paul Coro he has participated in all of the recent practices.

Channing Frye could slide to center, Coro writes, and in any instance rookie Markieff Morris will have an opportunity to get quality minutes from the start of the season.

“That’s what I’ve been working toward my whole life and now it’s finally here, and I’m ready to play,” Morris said on Media Day.

If the Suns clamp down with their interior defense and rebounding, that’s half of the battle, and they still won’t be able to rest easy. On defense, they’ll need to lock down guard Eric Gordon, the athletic combo guard who was also shipped to New Orleans in the Paul trade.

Likely it’ll be on Grant Hill, Josh Childress and Jared Dudley to limit Gordon, though Gentry could give Shannon Brown a number of minutes against a high-level athlete to see what one of the newest Suns can bring to the table.

Our preseason 5-on-5 preview presented a lot of “what ifs”, and tonight’s season opener against a youthful and reorganized Hornets squad might begin to spell out the answers.

  • Scott

    Finally we’ll get a game featuring more serious minutes by the Suns starters. That should give us a view of the best we can expect.

  • Kevin

    So excited for the start of the season! Let’s start off strong with 3 straight wins!

  • Michael

    screw 3 straight wins to start off the season. lets get 66 straight wins to start off the season :]

  • Bin

    Hopefully the Suns will show more effort this time

  • Zak

    Many of the “ifs” will become obvious tonight. The Hornets are a team that has been basically thrown together over the past 2 weeks. They have quite a few talented players but very little time to try to come together as a team. I think that the Suns should win tonight… but the Hornets also have something of the stigma of being something like the NBA’s castoffs… playing for the league owned team. They will all be trying to prove they are better than that. Hopefully the Suns are up to the challenge and don’t take this team too lightly.

    Actually, the Suns shouldn’t take any team lightly this year.

  • Scott

    Well, it was a tale of two halves. The Suns seemed tentative in the first half, as if they were still practicing, trying to figure out how to play. In the second half, the Suns starting thinking about keeping track of the score and winning the game.

    Lopez and Morris stood out for their play. I was surprised to see Morris on the court not only in the 4th quarter, but in the final minutes. But he earned it.

    Price was not that bad as backup PG, I thought.

    Childress actually hit a 3.

    If the Suns hadn’t spotted the Hornets 9 pts in the first half, they’d have won this game.

    Points of concern:

    Hill looked like he was struggling; not his usual smooth, athletic self. Either his knee is bothering him, or his conditioning isn’t quite there. I’ve been wondering if getting paid more this year was going to jinx him or not. ;)

    Frye’s offense is still MIA.

    Telfair and Brown didn’t seem to contribute much.

    I only recall Childress scoring 3 times.

    Gortat’s still trying to figure out how to play with his injury.

    Warrick never made it onto the court, so far as I could tell. They could have used his offense. Maybe he was out due to minor injuries.

    With any luck, the Suns will start the next game with the intention of winning it. :)

  • luis

    to bad they lost the game but great performance from lopez

  • bk

    It is best case scenario, losing in close game. Going towards best lottery pick and still entertaining.