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Heat in Pictures - Scouting Edition: New Orleans Hornets

The Miami Heat will be visiting the Big Easy and face the undefeated New Orleans Hornets. The city's pride, Chris Paul, is arguably one of the best point guards in the league and it's not difficult to see why if you've been witness to the CP3 show. Gift him a solid screen and Paul turns into a basketball Swiss knife of options, reading the defense and executing the play with the highest percentage to succeed. Kevin Arnovitz describes it in detail at the Heat Index and Hot Hot Hoops brings it to you in pictures.

The Assault

As usual, the play starts with a solid pick, this time courtesy of 270lbs of Aaron Gray. Paul immediately attacks faster than Bosh's defensive neurons can travel. As Paul dives into the paint, the defense reacts with Bosh, Anthony and Jones collapsing as an attempt to hinder his path. Paul now gets to choose between an open Peja Stojakovic (only one of the best three point shooters and an exquisite expiring contract) or Thornton and Okafor, both driving towards the basket.

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The Open Sea

With a high pick by Okafor, Paul again puts the pedal to the metal leaving the defender (Beverely at the time) and Bosh (Okafor's man) in the dust. You can spot the dust circled in red. Just in case you miss it. With the open sea of space, Paul could take matters into his own hands and get up for a shot or pick the Heat's poison.

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The Macarena

This play does not involve Paul's ability to attack but his job as CEO of the offense. Trevor Ariza curls around a double screen to get open for a shot or drive. Simultatenously, Marco Belinelli gets started on his road trip to the three point line. Paul bypasses Ariza, because...well.... his name is Ariza, and waits for Belinelli to come out of the twin tower gate built by Okafor and Smith. Gate closes after Belinelli gets through. Paul can now dish to Belinelli but Hasbrouck has managed to stay with him. Smith now makes his move towards the basket. He will die in *seven days* (whisper). Paul bypasses him. Because he's Jason Smith. Smith nevertheless draws Bosh and Anthony leaving Okafor ready for Paul to gift him an open shot. Okafor nails the 10 footer. Technically the shot you rather have the Hornets to take, but Okafor has been hitting around 45% from <10ft. Solid ball movement.

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Cutting the Chese

Another high pick by twin towers Okafor and Smith. Paul cuts right through four players, two of his, two of ours. The excellent slice has now drawn the defense and left the CEO with two open shooters and Okafor driving towards the basket.

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The Gnat

Not a play but always amusing to watch. Okafor provides another solid screen. Paul decides he has no need for it. He just drives and gets rid of the gnat following him with his signature bump n' devious arm push. The defense has no choice but to corral him and give the CEO the option of where to possibly get his 1,484,904th assist from. . With the absence of Lebron James and Dwyane Wade in their pre-season match, the Heat fell to the Hornets 90-76. Having James and Wade in full strength gives the Heat two of the best help defenders in the league which complicates things for Chris Paul a bit. Carlos Arroyo has been increasingly solid as a defender and Eddie House has the veteran instincts to bother the opponent without necessarily matching in athleticism. It's a tough team to defend that will take all five players in full sync. Chemistry and execution is paramount.