Hey, Monty, Play Chris Paul!
Play Chris Paul!
I don’t like second guessing coaches—okay, I take that back. I love second-guessing coaches. And the fact that Monty Williams, head coach of the New Orleans Hornets, found it in his heart to site Chris Paul as much as he did last night is atrocious.
In Williams defense, it is not his fault that the Hornets were outrebounded by the Los Angeles Lakers by 17 boards in a 106-90 loss in Game of the series. Still, it was Willaims decision to take Paul out of the game at the beginning of the second quarter, and boy did he pay for it.
When Paul left the game at the end of the first quarter, the Hornets were up by 9 points. When Paul came back into the game mid-way through the second quarter, the Hornets were down by 1 point. And that my friends, is where the game was lost.
Now it’s easy to point out that Paul still had a plus/minus of -7 for the game, but most of that was accrued during the fourth quarter, long after the Hornets had relinquished the lead. And anybody who watched that game could tell you that the Hornets were in bad need of Paul’s presence during that second quarter, as the offense went to crap for a good six minutes, and it never recovered after that.
The Hornets 19 points in the second quarter was a direct reflection of the Paul’s absence. Not only did not having Paul on the floor take away from the Hornets offensive efficiency, but it also diminished their defensive efficiency. When Paul was on the floor early on in the game, it forced Kobe Bryant to pay more attention to the point guard position, and it actually made Kobe guard Trevor Ariza a little more closely. However, without Paul on the floor to make Ariza an offensive threat, Kobe didn’t have to spend too much energy on the defensive end, and that allowed him to find his groove in the second quarter.
I will reiterate, however, that head coach Monty Williams can point to many other problems with his team last night. The team only shot 66% at the free throw line, Jarrett Jack was essentially worthless, and Chris Paul himself had just 5 assists after a 7-assists first quarter. But for me, and many other “basketball minds” out there, you have to think that had Paul played those crucial minutes early in the second quarter, his team might have won, or at least kept this close.
In fact, Paul should have played the entire game. Shoot, he playd 41 minutes, what’s the reach in going the other 7 minutes? Besides, if Monty Williams uses his timeouts correctly, there’s nary a problem making a 7-minute increase in one players on-court time.
So, Williams, you know what to do now! Play Paul every 48 minutes of the game. He’s your best player and offense looks ghastly without him on the floor! I suppose you could go with the alternative, but that certainly will cost you a spot in the second round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs.
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