There was a day or two when the New Orleans Hornets‘ return to the playoffs was in doubt, with David West being lost for the season and the Houston Rockets making a post-break charge at one of the final spots in the Western Conference.
But the Hornets picked up some big wins down the stretch and are in the playoffs for the third time in Chris Paul‘s six seasons. With four games left, including tonight’s home game against Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns (8 p.m. ET, NBA TV), their seed and first-round opponent is still up in the air.
The Hornets were fortunate in that they traded for a decent West replacement in Carl Landry back at the trade deadline. And Landry has done his part to keep his new team from sinking in the wake of West’s injury.
Landry had never played with the Hornets’ other four starters before West’s injury, but their new starting lineup is already the Hornets’ third most-used lineup this season, logging 100 minutes together over the last six games.
Six games is not much of a sample size, but thus far, the Hornets’ new lineup has been better than its old one…
|Lineup||GP||Min.||Pace||Off. Eff.||Def. Eff.||Diff.|
|Paul, Belinelli, Ariza, West, Okafor||52||882||90.7||106.3||102.9||+3.4|
|Paul, Belinelli, Ariza, Landry, Okafor||6||100||84.2||112.2||105.3||+6.9|
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
Off. Eff. = Points scored per 100 possessions
Def. Eff. = Points allowed per 100 possessions
What’s interesting is that, after the Landry trade and before his injury, the Hornets were much better (on both ends) with West on the bench than they were with him on the floor.
Hornets efficiency, between Landry trade and West injury
|West On/Off Floor||Min.||Pace||Off. Eff.||Def. Eff.||Diff.|
|West on floor||410||91.2||100.7||106.6||-5.9|
|West off floor||218||90.6||113.3||99.8||+13.6|
Even before West’s injury, the Landry trade turned out to be critical for the Hornets’ success. West had a negative plus-minus in four of the Hornets’ seven wins in that time, and didn’t play in a fifth. But now, without West, New Orleans has to worry about its depth. And clearly, there’s been a drop-off when the Hornets have gone to their bench.
Hornets efficiency,since West injury
|Landry On/Off Floor||Min.||Pace||Off. Eff.||Def. Eff.||Diff.|
|Landry on floor||211||88.1||109.4||105.0||+4.3|
|Landry off floor||76||90.0||106.7||116.0||-9.2|
Overall, the Hornets’ offense has been stronger (108.7 points scored per 100 possessions) since West’s injury, and that trend should continue with them playing the Suns tonight. Of course, their worst offensive game since the injury came in a loss to the Lakers, who may very well be their first-round opponent.