To think, when that headline was written, Lebron James was still listed as a starter for the Heat and tonight's game would have had a sliver of relevancy. James did not start, though and saw no action tonight, so instead we must again begin guessing at how this preseason performance reflects where this team will be when the games count.
The Hornets are not a complete team themselves, with David West sitting out again tonight with a wrist injury, but they seem a lot closer to a finished product than that Heat did. Miami, as it turns out, has not implemented any offensive sets into their game-planning so far this preseason; the Hornets were not only running plays, but they were executing.
Seriously! Pick and rolls, screens, double screens, isolation, real, life basketball plays that paid dividends on the scoreboard.
The Hornets also — gasp!—played pretty aggressive and efficient defense. Keeping the lead for most of the game and shutting down the Heat when they needed to most (Miami had at least a half-dozen shot clock violations).
And, of course, there was Chris Paul. He may or may not be happy with the Hornets’ approach this season but he continues to be a supreme competitor. Really, it’s a wonder he doesn’t get injured MORE than he does, especially considering he was diving after loose balls in a pre-season game.
But really, there’s not much more to report on this. The Hornets have finally put a complete game together, though against a not-really-complete team. Marco Belinelli scored a game-high 19 points and the public announcing system drove me a little bonkers every time they played the Tarantella Napoletana every time he scored. (Fun fact: the Tarantella is a southern Italian folk song. Belinelli is from the northern town of Bologna.)
But otherwise, this game was a very small step in the long process the Hornets must undergo before finding themselves as a team.