Phoenix Suns vs. New Orleans Hornets Preview and Pick

Phoenix Suns +5.5 (11-7) at New Orleans Hornets -5.5 (9-6) O/U 198.5 8:30 PM ET Wednesday December 3, 2008 on NBA TV
By Jason Green of

Tonight the Suns travel to the Big Easy to play the New Orleans Hornets. Even though the game is in New Orleans the Suns have a better road record (7-2) that the Hornets have at home (4-3). The Hornets will be trying to win their 5th win in 6 games. The Suns have preached defense in the desert this year under new head coach Terry Porter, but in their last 2 games they given up 117 and 107 points. Tonight the Suns will try to avoid their first 3 games losing streak since February of last year.

Currently the Suns are in 2nd place in the Pacific Division 4 games back of the Lakers while the Hornets are in 2nd place in the Southwest Division only .5 games back of the Rockets.

Basketball bookies have the Hornets as 5.5 point favorites with a total around 198.5. The Hornets are posted at -240 as home favorites and the Suns are posted at +200 as away dogs.

The Suns come into this game after losing on Monday night to the New Jersey Nets 107-109. The high scorer for the Suns in that game was Steve Nash going for 26 points and dishing out 9 assists. For the game the Suns shot well going 40/73 from the field for a FG% of 54.8%. On defense the Suns allowed the Nets to shoot a FG% of 50% and Devin Harris torched them for 47 points, including 21 in the 4th quarter.

The Hornets come into this game after a 5-day break, as they have not played since last Friday’s 101-86 loss to the Portland Trailblazers. The high scorer in that game was Peja Stojakovic going for a season high 21 points on 8/14 shooting. For the game the Hornets shot 39/75 from the field for a FG% of 44.3%. On defense the Hornets played horribly, as they allowed the Blazers to shoot 37/69 for a FG% of 53.6%.

The Suns rank 8th in the league in scoring (100.6 ppg) and the Hornets rank 22nd (96.2 ppg). The Suns are shooting lights out, as they are the only team in the NBA that is shooting over 50% from the floor. The Hornets are a much better defensive team, as they rank 6th in opponents scoring (93 ppg) while the Suns only rank 18th (99.7 ppg). Both teams are pretty even on the boards, as each team has a rebounding differential or around even.

This season the bettors laying green on the Hornets are not happy campers, as they are only 5-9-1 ATS while the Suns are 8-10. In terms of Over/Under games the Hornets are 8-8 this season and the Suns are 10-9-1.

On the injury front PG Steve Nash is day-to-day for the Suns while the Hornets are reporting no significant injuries.

The Suns are adjusting to having the Diesel in the middle, as this is now Shaq’s team. Shaq has played decent and is 2nd in the league in FG%.

One of the main reasons that the Suns lost their last 2 games is they averaged 20.5 turnovers in those 2 games. The Suns are having problems holding onto the ball, as they lead the NBA in turnovers with 16.9 per game.

The Suns match up well with the Hornets, as New Orleans does not have an answer for Shaq with no true center. Tyson Chandler will have to play good D on the Big Fella tonight.

The Hornets will have to drop down in the lane and defend Shaq, which will give open looks to Nash and the other long gunners of the Suns.

The PG match up is a good one with Chris Paul and Nash. Paul had an off game in the Hornets’ loss to the Blazers with only 16 points and 6 assists. Nash has not looks like the MVP player he was, as the Suns are no longer a run-and-gun team. Nash has to keep Paul from penetrating tonight for the Suns to be successful.

If Paul gets into the lane and Morris Peterson and Peja Stojakovic are hitting the 3 the Hornets will win this game. Stojakovic is 7-of-12 from 3-point range in his last 2 games.

These 2 teams have legit forwards in David West (19.8 ppg) and Amare Stoudamire (21.9 ppg). West will not have an easy time scoring, especially from the inside with Shaq waiting for him.

Both teams need this win to get back on track.

Jason’s Pick: Look for New Orleans to get back on track with a double digit win.