NBA Regular Season: New Orleans Hornets (26-49) at Utah Jazz (39-37) -- Game Preview

Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Game #77 • EnergySolutions Arena • Salt Lake City, UT • April 5, 2013 • 7:00 p.m. (MT) • TV: ROOT Sports RADIO: 1280 AM/97.5 FM and 1600 AM ESPN Deportes

NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 77:

New Orleans Hornets (26-49) at Utah Jazz (39-37)

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice . . .

.

The story of this game doesn't start today, or this week, or this month. No. The story of this game starts on April 13th, 2012. That was nearly the nail on the coffin game for us last season. It was the game last April against the New Orleans Hornets. Le's take a look at our last 10 games to get into the playoffs. We lost to the San Antonio Spurs in their gym, then won the next night in ours. They sat a number of guys, but we needed it and will take it. Then we went down to Texas again, and beat the Houston Rockets IN HOUSTON. Yeah. A road win. Us. We were 2-1 to start off our last 10. Then we had a night off, and flew from Houston to New Orleans.

And we pooped the bed in that game. The team started off well, but ended up letting the Hornets back into the game. Just so we're all on the same page here, that team started Greivis Vasquez, Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Jason Smith, and Chris Kaman. Not exactly world beaters, but on that night, Jazz beaters. Both teams were tied 47 all at halftime. We were outscored by 11 the rest of the way. In a must win game. Against a bad team that was tanking -- and ended up with the #1 pick in the draft the next season.

The Jazz then lost to the Memphis Grizzlies the next night and quickly found themselves at 2-3 in their second to last 5 game stretch. Of course, we pulled it together to win the last 5 games, which included 4 overtime periods, and three teams in tank mode. The lesson here isn't that "hey, we can afford to blow these games because we can turn it on like a switch." The lesson here is that if you take your eyes off of the prize all of your hard work can be rendered futile.

Do you remember that 5 game stretch to finish the season last year? Do you remember all the buzzer beating plays that we needed to just get in the playoffs? We needed a huge performance against the Phoenix Suns -- where our vets played their best, and our youth stepped up? Those are unlikely situations to be repeated with ease. We almost didn't make the playoffs last year because of the New Orleans Hornets.

And we can't afford to drop this one tonight at home. We staved off the Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, and Phoenix Suns last season. Right now though? We're trying to hold back the Los Angeles Lakers -- the darlings of the NBA. If we lose tonight? It will be bedlam.

This is something that shouldn't ever happen. Mercifully, it's unlikely to happen because Jason Smith, the smooth shooting stretch big, is out. Of course, they still have Eric Gordon -- who has decimated our defense his entire career. They also have Ryan Anderson, who cannot be left open. Of course, they also have Greivis Vasquez who has a game winner against us already this season. And if that's not all, we're bound to see more than 18 minutes of action from Anthony Davis, the previously mentioned #1 draft pick, tonight. Both times we've see them we've had him leave with injury. The third time could be the charm.

This is a must win tonight. Period. They all are. But we thought the Denver Nuggets game was a "must win", but I don't think the effort was there. We can't be fooled again.

Otherwise, well, shame on us.

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