The Heat Beat the Hornets

Published: October 16, 2009

In every game so far this pre-season, the Hornets have been outscored in the first and second quarters, and I’m not talkin’ by a couple points either.  The Hornets have entered the second half trailing the opposing team by an average of 17.8 points.  The Hornets are fouling more than they are being fouled, giving up more free throws, aren’t forcing many turnovers, and their perimeter defense has been abysmal, allowing an unpleasant 39% from behind the arc.

That last item doesn’t shock me.  The Hornets play either very slow or very rookie shooting guards, which tends to make it hard to defend that position.  They are also starting Julian Wright, and his tendency to cheat off shooters and try to help elsewhere has been well documented on this blog.  Open perimeter jumpers may be the norm this season until Scott manages to drill the value of staying home into the heads of his perimeter players.

On to the bullets about the game:

  • Julian Wright once again put up a solid, balanced line that made me happy:  12 points, 3-5 shooting, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 foul and zero turnovers in 26 minutes.  A particularly heartening item about him this pre-season:  In five games, he has had only four turnovers, three of which all came in a single game.
  • Hilton managed to score well(4-8 for 11 points), and far out-performed my usual expectations for his rebounding numbers by snaring 6.  As usual, he also wiped out any good contributions by delivering five fouls and turning the ball over five times.
  • Paul and West both shot poorly, combining to go 5-19.  West still got to the line a lot, but Paul just seemed to have an off game all around.  He didn’t get a single free throw, and took 3 three-pointers.  It’s unusual for him to take that many, especially in limited minutes.
  • Devin Brown continues to hit deep shots at a fairly solid clip, but still turned in a weak effort, managing no rebounds, free throws, assists, steals, or blocks in 18 minutes, and earning only 8 points on 8 shots.
  • Bobby Brown was scoring well, going 8-13 for 18 points.  He didn’t do much else, and once again, despite his production he posted the team’s worst +/-.  If it was just one game, I’d ignore that number, but he’s consistently posted some of the worst +/- on the team this pre-season, even when he’s producing.  Defense may just not be his forte.  His scoring kept him on the floor, though, and Darren Collison on the bench for all but 6 minutes.
  • Thornton got the start and more minutes than any other shooting guard, but his shot wasn’t falling like it had in previous games.  Still, it’s nice to see Byron trying him out as a starter, even if I think Peja starting at the two is inevitable at some point this season.
  • And speaking of Peja, I may be completely wrong about him starting if things keep going the way they are going.  He missed all seven of his shots in the game, and is now shooting 18% from the field and 22% from deep.  I went back and checked the last two pre-seasons and he was a solid shooter then, so I can’t just say he takes it easy during the pre-season.  Maybe he’s not suited to the bench.  Or maybe he’s lost his shot.  Or maybe I need to stop dwelling on the pre-season.

Next game is Saturday in New Orleans against the Pacers.  Turn out and give the guys some D-Fense chants to inspire them.

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