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Game #13: New Orleans Hornets (6-8) vs. Miami Heat (7-5)

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The Heat will play their first home game in almost a week after dropping three in a row.  As you could probably expect, things are not very happy among the Heat coaches, who are feeling that the team has completely lost itself defensively.  For the first few weeks of the season Miami was a defensive beast, leading the league in most defensive categories. 

Since then the Heat have collapsed defensively, giving up over 100 points in four of their last five games, losing all four.  Granted that being without defensive leaders Udonis Haslem and Quentin Richardson has an effect, but it was a team effort when things were going well and it's a team effort (or lack of) that has things in a downward spiral.

"It's about proving," Coach Erik Spoelstra said, "proving that, to your teammates you're willing to compete, to lay it all out there, to sacrifice your body, to get into the fray, to prove it that you're reliable, dependable to our system, dependable to each other out there, and proving that our identity actually means something deep to us, to defend and do what we're capable of.  One way or another, we're going to get back to that identity.  The defensive performance we've had in the last two second quarters and the last three games of giving up over 100 points three straight games, is not what we built."

For a full article on the Heat's defensive woes, Ira Winderman has us covered.  Click here.

The aforementioned Haslem and Richardson are both unlikely to play, listed as questionable and doubtful respectively.  Without Q I have to wonder who the Heat will go with at small forward.  I liked seeing James Jones and wouldn't mind him getting another start to get more comfortable out there.  Yes, he didn't do much of anything last game other then missing all of his shots, but he is a much better player then that and I'm confident he'll show it if given the opportunity.

However, with Erik Spoelstra wanting to get the team back to their defensive roots I wouldn't be incredibly shocked (just a little) to see Dorell Wright get the start due to his better then average defense.  I'd still say that is a long shot, but who knows. 

The Hornets are coming off of a home win over the Hawks in which their rookies led the way.  Darren Collison got his first career double double when he recorded season high's with 22 points and 11 assists.  Fellow freshman Marcus Thornton had a season high 21 points while veteran Peja Stojakovic went 5-of-7 from beyond the arc.  The Hornets collectively shot 71% from 3-point range against the damn Hawks and have hit 25 treys in their last two games. 

GAME NOTES

  • The Heat are coming off of their worst defensive game of the season, surrendering 120 points to the Raptors on 58% shooting. 
  • New Orleans has scored over 100 points in two of their last three games, and scored 96 in their win over the Hawks last night. 
  • New Orleans has won three straight but they all came on their home court.  On the road they are just 1-6 on the season. 
  • Miami has lost four straight games to the Hornets and six of the last seven. 
  • New Orleans is 3-2 since firing former coach Byron Scott.
  • With a premium on defense and the injury to starting SF Quentin Richardson, could we possibly see Yakhouba Diawara get some minutes?  He's played only 5:36 this season, coming in the Heat's 2nd game of the season (win at Indiana).
  • Playing well defensively is only going to get tougher for the Heat.  In the next two weeks they play games at Orlando, vs. Boston, at Denver and at the Lakers.

Tipoff from the AAA is at 6pm tonight.  Lucky me will be working and if I can't watch it there then the usual ‘DVR after midnight' will be how I'll roll.  Enjoy your Sunday everyone!