New Orleans (1-0), Milwaukee (0-1)
It was over when… Willie Green made the first of two free throws, giving New Orleans a two-possession lead with 5 seconds remaining. On the previous possession, the Bucks were trying to tie the game with a three-pointer, but Trevor Ariza came up with the biggest defensive play of the night, poking the ball away from John Salmons. Salmons complained to the officials that there was contact on the play, but Ariza’s tip all but sealed the Bucks’ defeat.
Hornets MVP: Instead of attacking relentlessly, Chris Paul had one of those trademark nights in which he surveyed the defense and tried to spot open teammates. The result was a 16-assist game (his career-high is 21). Interestingly, the players who launched the most and third-most shots from the field were Marco Belinelli and Ariza, who both received plenty of feeds from Paul while spotted up around the three-point arc.
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Jason Smith packed nearly all of his production into one stretch of the third quarter, tallying all of his eight points during a pivotal span of game action. New Orleans managed to gain semi-control of the game with a six-point edge entering the fourth quarter.
The buzz on… Monty Williams’ rotation. In the days preceding Wednesday’s game, Williams maintained that he was unsure of which players would be in his rotation. As it turned out, the answer for Game 1 was “everyone in uniform.” Just one minute into the second quarter, all 12 Hornets had entered the action, an extreme rarity in the NBA. Williams also frequently substituted all game, keeping players fresh. “I think he’s trying to determine what guys play well together, and he was trying to find a spark from the bench,” assessed Green. “Right now, he’s still feeling out what he wants to do as far as substitution patterns and who can give us a lift. The good thing about our team is we have a lot of versatility and guys who you can put in multiple positions.”
Blog question of the night: How many wins do you project for the Hornets this season?