A Supreme 'Bee'atdown

This is embarrassing. (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

Wanna talk about regression? Let's head down to New Orleans, where the Hornets had the most disgraceful playoff performance in 53 years, losing 121-63 in Game 4 of their first-round series against the Denver Nuggets on Monday night. The 58-point loss matched the largest blowout loss since the Minneapolis Lakers defeated the St. Louis Hawks, 133-75, in 1956.

The Nuggets, who have a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, are obviously hungry to reach the second round for the first time since 1994. But that desire and determination doesn't explain how the Hornets got completely manhandled at home, in the playoffs, in a game in which they could've tied the series. Yeah, Tyson Chandler isn't right because of his bum ankle, and Chris Paul and David West are worn down after carrying this team -- with little assistance -- for the entire season. But there is no excuse for a 58-point loss --at any level of basketball, certainly not with paid professionals, in the NBA playoffs. That was truly inexplicable, truly despicable.

That final score is both mind-boggling and mortifying: 121-63.

You know it's bad when you barely score more points than the margin of defeat. "It's the worst we've played since I've been here," Hornets Coach Bryon Scott said on Monday night. "That's the worst basketball game I've ever seen us play."

And trust me, Scott has seen some awful basketball in his time in New Orleans. In his first year, 2004-05, the Hornets went 18-64 with a team that featured such "legendary" players as Dan Dickau, Lee Nailon, Jackson Vroman, Casey Jacobsen, Bostjan Nachbar and the incomparable Maciej Lampe. And that team probably wouldn't have lost that badly last night.

After showing some promise last season in capturing the No. 2 seed and pushing the Spurs to seven games in the conference semifinals, the Hornets truly have backpedaled. They are the No. 7 seed this season, but didn't appear to be that far below Denver (just five games in the regular season standings).

Who knew the separation was as vast as the altitude of the two cities?

To put that 58-point beatdown in some more perspective, the Hornets lost five games last postseason -- one to Dallas, four to San Antonio -- by a combined 52 points. This year, the Hornets have lost three games to the Nuggets by a combined 102 points. Do they even have to play Game 5?

Why you gotta do us like that, Melo? (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

Before the season, the Hornets were considered a team that could contend with the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference. After plucking James Posey from the champion Boston Celtics, some even considered them a darkhorse Finals team. But the team that was considered an up-and-coming power in the West is already at a crossroads in less than one year. The team tried unsuccessfully to break up its core and traded Chandler at the deadline before the Oklahoma City Thunder balked because of an apparent toe injury. The Hornets will probably explore moving Chandler again this summer.

But things can change quickly in this league. All you have to do is look at the Utah Jazz, which reached the Western Conference finals in 2007, and appeared to be a team on the rise with Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer resembling a new millennium Stockton and Malone. But the Jazz lost in the second round last season, and got eliminated last night by the Lakers. The Jazz now enters an offseason when it could potentially lose Boozer, Paul Millsap, Mehmet Okur and Kyle Korver to free agency and, gasp, Jerry Sloan, a Salt Lake City coaching institution, might retire to his farm in Illinois.

The Jazz should still be competitive with Williams, just as the Hornets will stay good with Paul, but you have wonder if they will lead elite teams if big pieces start skipping town. If the Boston Celtics proved anything last year -- when Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen took full advantage of their best shot at a championship -- it's that there really is no security in "next year."

Next year, players can get hurt or traded, coaches can get fired, and you can be left clinging to what might've been. Or wondering how you just got shellacked by 58 points.

By Michael Lee |  April 28, 2009; 9:27 AM ET
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Great post, Michael. I was a never a big fan of dynasties in professional sports, but that's probably because, short of the Redskins, we've never really had one around here (unless you count DC United).

That having been said, it's kinda sad to think that the egg-timer on these teams has been so dramatically shortened. It makes you wonder what kind of knee-jerk reaction we're likely to see from trigger-happy GMs going forward...

Posted by: EYoung77 | April 28, 2009 10:11 AM

Kyle Korver could be the knockdown shooter the Wizards need. Too bad we wont have enough money to sign him.

Antwan Jamison, 4yr/50million HA!!!

Posted by: vwilli1 | April 28, 2009 10:30 AM

Just think, next year instead of talking about how the Hornets got beat, we will be talking about how the Wizards are getting knocked out of the playoffs again in the first round.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | April 28, 2009 10:39 AM


Kyle Kover, are you kidding me??? The guy barley gets minutes on the Jazz squad, what makes you think he'll improve this team? It's defense this team mostly lacks, esp in the post. Kover only shoots three's and looks like the guy from That's 70 show. You just don't like anyone on the Wizards team just admit to it. Beating down jamison because of his contract? He only played 82 games and won more honors and awards than that bum Kover. Three point shooters care a dime a dozen but they don't give you wins. Look at the Magic, they have a bunch of three point shooters but can't seem to knock out the 76er's.

Posted by: rcnasa | April 28, 2009 10:42 AM

I'd rather have earl boykins, spud webb and mugsy goin 3 on 5 than have KYLE KORVER ON MY SQUAD... the definition of one-dimensional!!!

Posted by: BurgwithaU | April 28, 2009 10:56 AM


Listen to what I am saying. I am a diehard Wizards fan so lets get that straight. What I am saying is that Jamison is no worth the 10 million plus he is getting at that age. Some of that money should be used to bring in other people that can help us.
One of the areas that can help us, a knock down shooter, ours is in San Antonio in case u forgot.
Korver is a shooter, every championship team has a knockdown shooter. Boston had one in House, LA had em, San Antonio had em. My thing is if we are trying to build a championship team, we need a knockdown shooter. SO Chill...

Posted by: vwilli1 | April 28, 2009 11:40 AM

Know what else every championship team has? Someone who can score the ball down in the paint, which is how/why their knockdown shooters get open looks. That is priority number one for the Wizards.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 28, 2009 11:50 AM

Someone who scores in the paint, Kalo? If Rasheed Wallace is found to have something left in his tank, he could be that player... and he will be available fairly cheaply I think. 'Course he would have to make peace with Flip.

David Lee can do the job also, but he will want a big contract and the Knicks just may have to give him one.

Blake Griffin is the ideal solution, though, so get out the rabbits' feet.

Posted by: khrabb | April 28, 2009 12:58 PM

the topic is the beat down and you guys are already off topic on Jamison LOL

Reading Comprehension is fundamental

on topic..Paul either needs better players around him or he needs to go to a team where they can plug him direct to contribute and go farther than they will this year. At this pace he might also burn out as Lee stated he is carrying this team

Posted by: WizardsExtreme | April 28, 2009 1:11 PM

Rasheed Wallace?

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that was a joke.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 28, 2009 1:12 PM

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