JDefense with John DeShazier 3/07/13

JDefense with John DeShazier

March 7, 2013

The sirens, you imagine, are blaring at a sustained, piercing pitch. The lights, you visualize, are whirling and flashing so rapidly that to look at them for any measurable length of time only intensifies the already elevated concern.

With 20 games remaining, the Hornets’ season is at its most critical stage.

Now, let’s be clear: To imagine the 2012-13 season as anything more than a rebuilding season would have been a stretch. Teams as young as the Hornets usually don’t vault from 21 wins, in a 66-game season, to 43 or 44 wins in an 82-game season. Especially when they’re as dogged by injury as this team has been hounded.

But consecutive losses to Orlando, arguably the worst team in the league, and the Lakers, inarguably the most dysfunctional, have been enough to shake the faith of most, if not all, believers. To watch New Orleans cough up large, third-quarter leads in consecutive home games – 17 points to Orlando in a 105-102 loss, and 19 to the Lakers in a 108-102 knockout – was to see a team that appeared unsure of itself, that didn’t know how to close, that hadn’t applied the lessons learned over this long, arduous season.

So these last 20 games present yet another measuring-stick opportunity for a team with a 21-41 record, with 10 games remaining both at home and on the road.

The Hornets need a good finishing kick in the fourth quarter of the season.

Yes, they need to do it for fans, of course, because support is earned, not awarded. More, though, players need to do it for themselves. Because it’s their psyche, their reputation and for some, their professional lives, that is on the line.

Think about this: Orlando shot 61 percent from the field in the second half, when it scored 69 points, and the Lakers scored the final 20 points of the game, while the Hornets failed the score in the final 6:47, in their respective wins.

Those losses hurt, and not just in the loss column. How the Hornets deal with that hurt, over the last 20 games, will tell us much about the team. It’ll tell us how much they’ve learned from a couple of devastating setbacks, and how desperately they want to show that a playoff spot isn’t all that’s to be played for in an NBA season.

Sirens seem to be blaring. Lights appear to be flashing. There are 20 remaining games for the Hornets to come to their own rescue.

I’m John DeShazier, and that’s this week’s JDefense.

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