Notes on the Hornets vs Wizards Preseason Game

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Published: October 16, 2008

The Hornets played the Washington Wizards Tuesday in Berlin, the first of their pair of games in Europe.  The next one will be Friday in Barcelona, and again it will be against the Washington Wizards.  I would expect the Wizards to come out pretty hard considering the absolute beating they took Tuesday.  It was shockingly bad.  Yes, the Wizards were missing 5 rotation players: Antawn Jamison, Gilbert Arenas, Brandon Haywood, Juan Dixon and Antonio Daniels.  Yes, Dee Brown was the only point guard on their roster who actually played.  That still doesn't excuse how badly they played for part of that game.  The Hornets rolled out of the gate on an 18-0 run.  There were three WIDE-open alley-oops, four wide-open three point shots(2 misses), and three only lightly challenged drives to the rim.  Even Morris Peterson simply dribbled down court at a leisurely pace, took a few steps inside the three point line, and when no one came to meet him, drilled a long two with all the time in the world.

That wasn't the worst of it, however, as halfway through the second quarter, the Hornets were winning 45-9.  I almost felt bad for the Wizards.  Then I remembered them celebrating after beating the Hornets twice last year, and I instead felt a glow of satisfaction.

Notes:

  • Julian Wright got the start for a resting David West and was, as usual, a bundle of energy.  At one point he was waiting for the referee to give him the ball so he could inbound, but the ref began directing the clean up of some moisture on the floor.  Julian couldn't stand still at all while it happened.  He was  pacing, twitching, and waving at the ref to give him the ball.  Unfortunately, he got hurt 8 minutes in when Andray Blatche barrelled into him, completely out of control. It's apparently an ugly injury – he's listed week-to-week, not day to day – and Bryon described it as "being hurt pretty good."
  • Washington's Andray Blatche was terrible.  Every year there are articles written about the Wizards claiming that Blatche is bound to break out  – that's he's got all the tools.  Last night he took about a dozen really bad shots, ran around like a chicken with his head cut off, and got lost repeatedly on defense.  Not impressed.
  • Butler went nuts, having one of those nights when a shooter just catches fire.  He got a pair of easy buckets from feeds by Chris Paul early on, and then continued to score at will, knocking down on spot-ups, pull-ups, and fadeaways with a defender in his face.  He even managed to get to the line a few times.  I'm not one to set much store in that – he's been known to get hot before – but it's still nice to see.
  • Jared Jordan, the free agent point guard brought in to compete for the 15th spot on the Hornet's roster proved to me he was not an NBA player last night.  His ball-handling skills were great, he never lost control under pressure, and his passes were accurate but like in all sports, speed kills, and his was killing him.  He had no acceleration, no quickness.  In a good 10 minutes as the point guard he was able to get across half court under pressure once without having to pass the ball to someone else.  When he was delivered the ball on the wing, he would try every ball-handling feint in the book to try and get some room to penetrate, but he was so slow the defender easily cut him off even if they bit on the jab step or crossover.  I don't expect him to make the roster.
  • Courtney Sims, however, played well.  He is the other free agent competing for that 15th spot on the roster, and he played hard and showed some ability.  He could easily be a fifth big man on the team and provide valuable rebounding and scrappy defense.  I would be pleased to see him make the roster and back up Hilton Armstrong.  Plus, we could then roll out two big men at the same time with the first names of Courtney and Hilton.  That'll strike terror in the hearts of our enemies.
  • Hilton was aggressive.  He shot every time he had an open shot, made strong moves to the basket, ran the floor, and went hard after rebounds.  His hands are still made of stone, and several rebounds bounced right off of them, but in all, he looked good, snagging 8 rebounds and 10 points in 28 minutes while giving pretty solid defensive effort.  Granted, he did that against Etan Thomas, Darius Songalia, Oleksiy Pecherov and JaVale McGee in the pre-season, but it's still encouraging.
  • I'll eat some crow and say Mike James looked very good.  I had expected barely adequate offense and no defense for him this year, but he was adequate defensively, and ran the offense very effectively.  He had some smooth drives, some excellent kick-outs, and played under control and efficiently.  He looked very good – and definitely better than Devin Brown.
  • Devin Brown is not the athlete I remember from two years ago.  I don't know if he's just out of shape, or if he has actually lost some ability to elevate, but I remember him taking the ball to the hoop and crushing it when he played for the Hornets before.  In this game his jumping ability seemed to be barely better than Peja's.  He was aggressive, worked hard, and pushed the ball on the break, but unless he gets into better shape, he's not the answer at Point Guard.

I think my next post is going to be about Jeff Bower – analyzing what he's done to build our team and what sort of flexibility we have coming up.  I was pleasantly surprised over the summer when I started looking over it.  He's a good GM – not like the disaster the Charlotte Front Office is turning out to be. (Why, MJ, WHY?)  They picked up Adam Morrison's contract this week – a contract that will pay him about $7 million next year.  During his rookie season he was one of the worst players in basketball – and that was before he had the dreaded microfracture surgery that kept him out all last year.  Really? 7 million? That's more than the league average.  It's more than every player on the Hornets but Stojakovic, Chandler and West will make this year.  I expressed my astonishment to Matt Moore, writer of the D-League and Draft blog Ridiculous Upside (among other things) and he pointed out that for 7 million dollars the Bobcats could buy a D-league team, upgrade it, and triple the salaries of all its players – and let's face it, a couple of those players are probably better than Adam Morrison.

If you haven't – be sure to read Ron's article below about the Hornets charitable actions and Blog Action Day.  And Just think what $7 mil could do there.

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