Will the Hornets ever lose again?

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Before you start to freak out, I’m kidding with that headline. Let’s not bust out the 72-10 tracker yet. Though, I guess, if we started one for the 6-4 Miami Heat we have every right to kickstart one for the Hornets, who improved to 8-0 Saturday night with a 107-87 victory over the Blazers, or as I like to call them, “the Walking Dead.”

The Hornets are now 8-0, the best team, record-wise, in the Western Conference. If the playoffs started today, New Orleans would be the No. 1 overall seed. It goes on, like that, for a bit.

So the question has to be asked when will the Hornets lose again, if ever? (Joke!)

Dell Demps told me tonight in a text message answer to that question, simply “Soon.” So it would appear he’s not readying an 82-0 banner any time in the near future. Predictable for a general manager to expect his team to lose eventually, even as he’s probably giddy at the start in his first year on the job with the Hornets.

But, seriously.

When are the Hornets going to lose?

This week provides a convenient opportunity as the Hornets play a home and home with the Dallas Mavericks. A perennial playoff team that’s especially good in the regular season and has both the size and guard play to at least hang with the Hornets? Sounds perfect. Except the Hornets have kind of owned Dallas, matchup-wise, in recent history. Plus, the Hornets have Dallas at home for the tougher second game. If they can get the matchup advantages in the first game, the home crowd might carry them in the second. Then it’s a Friday tilt against the Cavaliers, who are fiesty and tough, but let’s face it, not in the Hornets league at the moment. Alone, Chris Paul is a big enough advantage for that one to swing their way.

Then it’s a four-game trip that opens with a back-to-back at Sacramento and at the Los Angeles Clippers. Yawn. The way these Hornets are playing, they’ll be able to rest starters in the fourth quarter of each of these games.

Then comes the big one.

At Utah on Wednesday, Nov. 24.

It would be fitting for this to be the big game, and the one they lose. A Utah club that suddenly seems as invincible as the Hornets. Deron Williams, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson to match David West and Emeka Okafor. Bench depth, versatile small forwards, plucky shooting guards. It’s a dream matchup that has to be considered the heavy favorite for when this ridiculous Hornets streak will end.

After that there’s Portland, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City.  If it gets to that point? We’re dealing with something that goes well beyond just a normal hot start.

We’ll just have to keep watching and see if the Hornets surprise us some more.

Scottie Pippen on LeBron James, Michael Jordan: “It’s not a fair comparison”

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The battle has, stupidly, raged on between supporters of Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Both sides seem to believe their preference is irrefutably the choice for the best player in NBA history.

And because they did not play in the same era, the question will never be answered. No doubt in 50 years they will write columns about Jordan vs. LeBron, just like their fathers, and their father’s fathers before them.

James has certainly seemed to take a bit of a leap in the eyes of the NBA community this season, likely because of his wonderful performance at age 33. He’s also single-handedly won two playoff series this year. It’s been incredible.

But LeBron rising above Jordan has also brought out some more reasonable takes. Former Chicago Bulls legend and Jordan running mate Scottie Pippen spoke up recently about the debate, giving a measured analysis that I think is pretty strong.

In short, Pippen basically said you can’t compare the two because of the eras, the style, and the fact they just don’t play the same position (if LeBron even has a position, that is).

Via Twitter:

That sounds right to me.

Cavaliers’ Kendrick Perkins not into “all that new stuff” like Chewbacca

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Chewbacca was at Game 3 in Cleveland Saturday. Sitting courtside.

Why? Because growing up on Kashyyyk he played a little hoop and admires LeBron James‘ skill? Because Drake gave him the tickets? Maybe. I mean, it’s not like that was just a clever little publicity stunt for a movie.

After the Cavaliers’ win, Kevin Love decided to make a little joke of it with noted humorist Kendrick Perkins, and it went over as well as expected (with Dave McMenamin of ESPN catching it).

That’s vintage Perkins.

Celtics’ Terry Rozier on Game 3: “We needed to get our butts whooped”

Associated Press
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Cleveland dominated Game 3 Saturday night. They played harder, to start. The Cavaliers’ defensive pressure on the ball was better, they were sharper rotating out to shooters and covering passing lanes. Cleveland’s role players stepped up and helped LeBron James.

Boston, meanwhile, wilted in the face of that pressure Saturday, something it has done a few times on the road these playoffs. The Celtics got away from the things that got them to the Eastern Conference Finals. Guard Terry Rozier put it more bluntly, via A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston:

“I feel like we needed this (loss) to get us back … to get us ready for Monday,” Rozier said.

Rozier later added, “We needed to get our butts whipped. Come back to reality and take care of business on Monday.”

Cleveland is a championship team — from LeBron James on down through the core guys, they all have rings. They have been down before, and heading home it was expected they would play with force. Cleveland’s back was against the wall and they responded.

From the Celtics’ perspective, they also got a little too fat and happy and were not ready for what the Cavaliers came with in Game 3.

Now the pressure is on Boston to push back, to get back to their level of execution and do it under pressure. Make the Cavaliers prove the improved defensive effort was not a one-off game. The Celtics must move the ball and play with some pace, then see if the Cavaliers can keep it together in the face of crisp play.

When this series heads back to Boston Wednesday, it will either see the Celtics in control up 3-1, or the series will be a best of three (with the Cavs still having to figure out if they can win on the road). At home, the Cavaliers are going to play with force again and have some depth. We’ll see if Game 3 was enough of a wakeup call for Boston.

PBT Extra: Can Rockets take Game 2 energy, execution on the road?

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Houston found its blueprint to beating Golden State in Game 2: Strong defensive pressure on the ball, quick switches and communication on defense, getting out in transition when possible, and starting sets earlier in the shot clock and attacking downhill with James Harden and Chris Paul.

Now can they do that on the road? Against a more focused and sharper Warriors’ team?

That will be the question in the next two games of the Western Conference Finals, and it’s what I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.