The Hornets beat the Heat

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Published: October 13, 2010

That was enjoyable as the Hornets beat a badly depleted Heat team 90-76.(Box Score)  For most of the game, the Hornets held a comfortable lead – except for the stretch where Bosh got hot and put the Heat on his back.  It still bugs me that people dismiss him.  The dude is an efficient scorer.

The game itself highlighted one inescapable fact:  The Hornets need to work on beating a zone defense.  Now, I’m not going to claim the Hornets haven’t worked on beating a zone defense . . . but that’s what it looked like to me.  There was no movement, no attacking, and the only penetration was from Paul – who would draw in three defenders, kick it out, and get a miss.  Something for Monty to chew on, because the Hornets couldn’t score at all against it.

Due to the Heat’s short rotation and the Hornets trying to figure out their standard rotation for the season, the second quarter had a freakishly odd set of matchups.  At one point, the Hornets were running a very small Gray-Stojakovic-Pondexter-Thornton-Green against a very tall Ilgauskas-Howard-Haslem-James Jones-Hasbrouk.  It didn’t result in many points for either side, but it did have some entertaining moments as Pondexter and Peja tried hard, but were tossed around like ragdolls by Haslem – and then hit shots over him from the perimeter.

Marco Belinelli

Cookies had a nice night.(maybe that nickname does work)  His outside stroke was on, and when they started closing out on him, he had some solid drives and a couple nice escape dribbles for an open look.  He was mobile around the perimeter too, frequently sliding along the edge to give Paul an outlet whenever the defense collapsed.  Defensively, he was active, if not tremendously speedy.  Still, I liked what he gave on that end.  I particularly enjoyed the way he handled the ball when bringing it up the floor.  His head was up, and he was probing for the right pass to make.  Though that didn’t result in much this game, it’s not something most of the guards on this team do. 19 points on 10 shots, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and a single turnover.

I’ll also admit, a couple times I thought “damn, Peja’s really active!”  Then I realized it was Marco.

Jason Smith

You could focus on the negative with Jason.  Bosh made him look like a chump, he’s not tremendously strong or agile, and balls routinely bounced right off his open hands.  That said, the guy was battling hard every minute of the game and took only good shots.  For someone with no history of rebounding, he was in the mix on every loose ball, he set picks and moved to the open spots, and generally looked like a taller, more capable version of Songaila.  I can dig that.  13 points on 8 shots, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 block for Jason.

Willie Green

Green wasn’t a world beater on offense, but he did his job as a backup point guard, getting the ball to the right guys to start the offense, and looking for the open spots on the perimeter.  It was defensively where I particularly liked what he gave to the team.  Monty had him pressing the entire time he was on the floor, and he showed no sign of tiring or being unable to recover when he did get beat by being overly aggressive.  He also willingly gave up his body to take a charge on the 300 pound Dexter Pittman with 2 minutes left in the game and the outcome decided.  That’s the kind of defensive mentality we need. 10 points on 8 shots, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and zero turnovers for Willie in twenty minutes.

Other Observations

  • CP wasn’t really looking for his offense for most of the game.  Beverly was hounding him, and he seemed content to try to set up the rest of the team for all but a brief stretch in the third.  His shot didn’t fall much either, but the shots he was taking were all good ones.  When the season starts, I do hope he starts off games more aggressively than he did last year.  He’s got to be a threat all game long.
  • Aaron Gray went to the floor to grab a loose ball in the fourth, ripping it away from Udonis Haslem.  That’s not something you can say very often about a 7-2, 300 pound center.  He too has the right mentality.
  • I really like Patrick Beverly of the Heat.  Always have.  He’s got blazing speed and impressive handle.  Can’t shoot yet, but he really puts pressure on a defense and opposing ballhandlers with constant movement.
  • Marcus Thornton is pressing.  Twice, he tried to explode on a break before he even had the ball under control, resulting in turnovers.  Completely uncharacteristic of him.  He’s also so eager to make something happen, he’s holding the ball a little too long.  He was still the first guard off the bench after tha half, but he didn’t get a minute in the fourth quarter.  He’ll figure it out.
  • Trevor Ariza opened the game playing tough, focused defense.  Then he got bored and stopped.  I’m not a fan of the way he massages the ball looking for a drive before making a decision or passing, either.  Still, when he was focused in the first quarter he showed something the Hornets haven’t had in years – a defender capable of helping in the paint on drives yet still able to make it out on the wing shooters if a kickout occurs.  That helps the weak-side of a defense so, so much.
  • Okafor did his usual Okafor thing.  Oh, other than going 9-11 on free throws.  Where did that come from?  Sometimes, I wish he was a little lighter on his feet and didn’t need to gather himself before jumping.  It lets opposing players bother his shots or hack him, turning surefire dunks into foul shots.
  • Pops looked completely overmatched.
  • Pondexter had a really rough start, making mistakes, and blowing a breakaway dunk.  He didn’t let it bother him, though, and he ended with an okay showing despite being forced to guard 4’s a lot of the game.

The next game is Friday in Indiana.  Have a good night.

36 comments
JCS
JCS

@Reazy The sad truth is that Marcus never won us games, but don't you think it's too soon to say Marco is better? If we're running the same kind of offense as we were last year, then technically Marcus has a leg up.

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

'rm', I'm being very genuine when I say Marco is a better player than Marcus. I used to watch a lot of Baron Davis / Warriors games a few years ago, and I always wondered why Don Nelson waited until injuries occurred to play this guy, because he always played well when he was given the opportunity. Jay Triano had no clue in Toronto. I'm stating this about Marco with the fact that Marcus Thornton is a beast when he wants to be. Both struggle with defense, but in terms of fundamentals and actual skill-set, the 'Cookie-Marco' is better than MT5. You know, Monty Williams said that the reason for Marcus coming off the bench is because he and Willie Green have good chemistry together. Well, from what we've seen that's far from the truth. I believe the truth is Marco has better chemistry with Chris Paul. Monty didn't want to use that 'glass-half-empty' approach with Marcus. L_Reazy

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

'rm' ... read my response to you above about Pops. I've seen those same highlights over-and-over again, but he doesn't do that stuff consistenly! Night in-and-night out ... won't happen. I've watched the three presason games, and I feel cuts are forthcoming to: Pops and Watkins! As fans, we try and convince ourselves about a player more than we should, hence Julian Wright! Deep down in our 'honesty jar' we know the truth. We can see who plays well, who is just athletic, who can shoot with pressure, dribble, etc... This is why Belinelli is better than Marcus Thorton ... his IQ, shooting, passing, ball-handling, etc... Yeah, Marcus is faster than Marco, more athletic, and a better scorer, but that isn't the basic fundamentals for winning. It's the stuff that Marco does that produces wins, and that's why he will start over MT5. He may even finish games too! Marco might have a greater impact than Trevor Ariza this season! Just a few thoughts. Nevertheless, I've always felt Marco was this good even with limited time in Golden State. I'm glad the Hornets got him! ...but Pops, it ain't going to happen. Once again, the rotation: F-West, F-Ariza, C-Okafor, G-Belinelli, G-Paul F-Smith, F-Stojakovic, C-Gray, G-Thornton, G-Green F-Alexander, F-Pondexter, C-Mbenga, G-Strawberry, G-Shakur

rm
rm

Not Pops

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

So, what I'm reading from you all is: F-David West 6-9 F-Jason Smith 7-0 F-Trevor Ariza 6-8 F-Peja Stojakovic 6-9 C-Emeka Okafor 6-10 C-Aaron Gray 7-0 G-Marco Belinelli 6-5 G-Marcus Thornton 6-4 G-Chris Paul 6-0 G-Willie Green 6-3 I do like the twin towers look in the second unit along with the size at back-up PG and SF. I would like to see DJ Strawberry make the team somehow, because he adds a lot of speed to our back-court at 6-5. So, to round out the roster: G-Strawberry, F-Pondexter, C-Mbenga, & maybe either F-Alexander or F-Mensah-Bonsu. However, it does seem like the writings-on-the-wall for Joe Alexander & Pops Mensah-Bonsu, both of which are players I had high expectations for to prove critics wrong ... but, oh well! L_Reazy

TopherPrice
TopherPrice

My personal desired rotation of the day would be as follows: PG: CP3/Bellineli SG:Bellineli/MT5 SF:Ariza/Peja/Q PF:West/Smith C:Emeka/Gray/DJ At the 4min mark in the 1st, CP3 goes to bench and MT5 comes in at SG and Marco slides over to PG. At beginning of 2nd quarter West and Ariza hit the bench for Peja and Smith. At 8 minute mark of the 2nd, CP3 re-enters the game and Marco goes to the bench for the rest of the half. If Peja is struggling or more defense is needed while Ariza gets his break, then put Q in the game for some minutes. If Marcus is having trouble defensively or issues with his offense being off, you can sub Green, Marco, or one of our other plethora of guards on the bench at SG. Rinse and repeat for second half. This guard rotation I think has the ball in the hands of the two guys with the best skill at creating for others, and keeps CP3, Marco, and Buckets all at around 30 minutes a game.

TopherPrice
TopherPrice

Well if your going to make me really think about it, I will say Alexander over Pops 60%/40% for that third cut. As I said I wasn't basing it on play, just playing time. Alexander to sit 1 of 3 games when he is playing the spot with the least available minutes does not worry me as much as a guy losing minutes every game in the spot the Hornets are the thinnest, in the two games where the starter is injured freeing up even more playing time. But if I consider the depth we have at the 3 spot, one being a rookie that needs minutes to develop, I would think that is a point against Alexander. @jcs: I don't know about Mustafa, the low work ethic angle doesn't give with Monty's statements about him in camp. I think it is a bit of ego on the Brain Trust. I think they pulled the trigger on the trade for Green, & they are not ready to admit the mistake in thinking he could be the backup point option they believed him to be. If they give up on him already, that's a whole dozen eggs in omelet form on their face for making that trade. I think Mustafa is in purgatory until they decide to stop trying to force Marcus and Green in the backcourt together. I think these are not huge ego guys, so I don't expect it to take much longer.

JCS
JCS

I want to know what's going on with Mufasa. He's guard from U of A so he can't be a scrub. Perhaps, he has a poor work ethic in practice a la Iverson? Or maybe Willie G. is just a preseason decoy??

rm
rm

Yeah but Alexander didn't play at all yesterday.

TopherPrice
TopherPrice

Just to clarify, that is as of today. It's still early in preseason. Plenty of time for people to pull a Smith and look like they make a play for their roster spot.

TopherPrice
TopherPrice

Before Mbenga was signed, I was saying Mustafa and Watkins. That is not on any personal opinions of their play, just that neither have played in two of the 3 preseason games. With one being a blowout, and they still couldn't go in during junk time when everyone else apparently was playing half-heartedly, I don't like their odds. Now that I have to pick a 3rd, I am saying Pops just because his minutes are being cut in half every game.

JCS
JCS

Who are you cutting off your roster? Pops, Watkins, and Alexander??

TopherPrice
TopherPrice

The idea is that you would have your best performing 5 rested and ready for the last 4 minutes of each half. Most nights, in my eyes that should be CP3/MT5/Ariza/West/Okafor. But sadly for my love of Buckets, I am thinking it will be a toss up every-night between him and Marco being in the game in those last 4 minutes.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

I would say Shakur over Strawberry (or maybe both) and I dont see anyway Pops makes this team. As for your 10 man rotation- I think you are dead on even though Willie Green looks useless on this team and I am personally hoping the Hornets go to a 3 guard rotation with CP3, Cookies, and MT5 splitting up those 96 minutes. I also think based on matchups, Mbenga could get minutes over Gray. Against a team like Utah, for example, I think Mbenga would be a better choice to get those minutes behind Okafor.

rm
rm

Thanks for that analysis. As you can see I am a massive pops fan as I saw him play for gb this summer and he was awesome. I have been watching him for a number of years and feel that he has the stuff to really get a game going. I have not got the basketball knowledge that you guys have and the analysis you provide here is great. He is raw and will never be polished but I do think that if he came out like he did for gb just for 5 minutes he would provide so much and would be a crowd favorite. Saying that I have not watched any pre season games as we don't get them televised in the UK but I will try and get tonight's game streamed.

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

In response to 'rm' in regards to what Pops Mensah-Bonsu isn't doing ... Well, it starts with his inconsistencies in what is supposed to be his main attributes (rebounding / defense), and somewhere in the middle of his troubles he reveals that he is still a very raw talent, furthermore, if you continue to watch him play you'll notice (like other teams have in the past) that he has a low IQ for the game. He will literally foul out of a game in 10 minutes! The same could be said about Aaron Gray, but at least he rebounds and passes the ball well ... consistently! Pops has been given three games like most of the Hornets players, and it really seems like he has no idea as to what he is doing. The same goes for Joe Alexander. If you watch them play you can tell they haven't studied the playbook or at least obtained the information from it. I can't stand watching players who don't know the plays! A lot of times with raw players all they need to do is show a commitment to learning the plays, and they'd been decent players, but Pops doesn't seem like he has put in the same time as a Belinelli (new aquisition) or even Jason Smith (new aquisition) who really showed me that he is capable of contributing off of the bench. This is why Mbenga, of all players, was signed recently. Pops just doens't show the comittment to being a professional, and learning what needs to be learned. Players like him leave us fans wondering "why" all the time, because we recognize their potential. However, as we learned with Julian Wright, they aren't concerned with getting better, but rather staying employed. Well, Pops, not with this team! L_Reazy

TopherPrice
TopherPrice

Pops may be athletic, but he is looking like JuJu out there right now. He still has 4 games to prove himself, but he will have to pick it up. For specifics, he is getting lost on defense. And as Marcus did not come in the entire 4th because of his defensive issues, Pops was pulled after 5 minutes. The disturbing trend for his chances on the team are his minutes have shrunk each game, by half each game. At this pace he will get a whole 2 minutes on Friday.

bee dat
bee dat

Unfortunately it's what he's not doing. Did you see the boxscore. All donuts for pops. Of course he didn't play much but he looked lost. I was rooting hard for the guy. I hope they don't cut him before he gets a chance to play a significant number of minutes in the later games. He had no effect when he came in last night, and miami made its biggest run at that time.

rm
rm

Once again I ask has Pops been given a fair shout. What is it that he isn't doing. He is an awesome re bounder and offers real energy off the bench. Give me some constructive criticism here. Not just that he sucks!

hewhorocks
hewhorocks

Ryan! SHAME ON YOU! Selling Gray down the river after praising him: "Aaron Gray went to the floor to grab a loose ball in the fourth, ripping it away from Udonis Haslem. That’s not something you can say very often about a 7-2, 300 pound center. He too has the right mentality." That doesnt jive with "You will NEVER see them go aggressively and snatch one the way Haslem does." (emphasis mine) He snatches one or two aggressively but he is usually BOXING OUT! Yeah fundamentals basketball isnt as exciting I suppose but if everyone is doing the "little things"... Heh anyway. Gray's +/- was a respectable +11 last night. interestingly CP's was a -2 and Thortons a team worst -9. Wasn't my impression leaving the game last night but then again I get lost in the moment.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

Just to clarify, when I say "snatching rebounds" I am talking about strength in hands, holding onto the ball, and winning 50/50 balls. There was a 50/50 ball in the 2nd quarter between J Smith and Patrick Beverly where both of them got their hands on the ball at the same exact time and Beverly snatched it away. Smith is aggressive with his body and Gray does box out fairly well, but I am talking about nasty rebound snatching. Think about CP3 when healthy- whether the ball was in the air, on the ground, or in between- if it was a 50/50 ball, he was coming away with it. I do not see that in any of our bigs. We can get rebounds by positioning and by sending more men to the glass, but there are no guys on this team who I think just has the nasty disposition to snatch a board away in a crowd.

JCS
JCS

@McNamara Do you have any idea why Watkins is not playing? I'm not going to name any names, but I think he can do better than zero attempted shots, blocks, and 4 personal fouls, all in 22 minutes of play.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

Observations and Questions from last night's game: - How awful did Willie Green's mid range jumper look? - Gray and Smith have good size but they wait for rebounds to come to them. You will never see them go aggressively and snatch one the way Haslem does. - Like I said in my recap after Magic game, I love Emeka's new FT stroke. He missed two when he was extremely winded last night and he will have to work on keeping his form when fatiqued, but when fresh he has a nice form now. - Belinelli helped with spacing after he hit a few shots, but Heat really packed the lane when Paul drove. Hopefully West helps this when he gets back in the starting 5, but compared to 07-08 when there was the threat of the Tyson lob and the Peja three, Paul has a lot less room. - Belinelli actually releases his shot when he is on his way down. From experience, this leads to shots getting blocked or altered more and inconsistancy. - Q-Pon is going to have to put on weight and work on his shot before he ever gets significant minutes and contributes. Those hoping he would be a Marcus type sleeper for us if we trade Peja- he won't. I don't even think he can have a JuJu type rookie season. Needs a year or two. - I have never seen a player give less effort on getting through a screen than Marcus Thornton. - Ariza did not seem pleased that he was an afterthought in the offense and his defense suffered as Ryan pointed out. He also forced some things in the 2nd and 3rd. It might be smart to get him involved from time to time just to keep him focused. - Haven't checked the shot chart, but I would bet Okafor missed 8-10 shots within 5 feet. - I am starting to think keeping Peja might be the best option for several reasons.

StefanC
StefanC

Smith could be somewhat serviceable as a backup center. He won't have to go against the likes of Chris Bosh when he's on the second unit. He really came away with a couple of rebounds that I didn't expect him to get. Hitting a couple of mid-range shots also helped us a bit. Other than passing from the high post, he's a better player than Songaila.

Ryan Schwan
Ryan Schwan

I agree with everything you say here, particularly Pondexter, except for one thing. Jason Smith was climbing peoples backs trying to get at rebounds. He may have not been that effective, but the dude was going out of his area to try and get them. I was astonished by that considering his rebounding numbers in the past.

hewhorocks
hewhorocks

While I agree with most of Sportnlife's assessment I cant get on board on Smith at center. Bosh is a great 4 but he's not exactly a "banger" and still he muscled Smith around. Using smith at center because of his height doesnt really take advantage of his talents. He can be a good to great backup 4. As a center I think he is poor to worse. I feel the desire to get Peja and Q-pon in together and lil buckets is a no brainer but there are only so many spots on the floor. Peja seems somewhat mobile but I would be much more comfortable with him playing in 6 min spurts. It would be so much easier to figure out if Green stepped it up or Marcus could figure out the point.

Mikey
Mikey

Mark this down... I will, by the end of this season, have Gerry V say "Chips Ahoy!", or something to that effect, when Marco makes a three.

Sportnlife
Sportnlife

Had good seats in the arena for a change, so I could see everything clear and close up. For three quarters, all I could think of was LeBron winking at Chris after the Heat JV team had spanked the Hornets. Except he had an alarm clock around his neck like Flavor Flav, and was waving his finger, "tick-tock." Then Belinelli took over and the finger wagging stopped, at least for the time being. I agree with TopherPrice that when Belinelli started handling more that broke the team out of the funk. I was somewhat angry at Monty for not putting the ball into Belinelli's hands sooner. Or even Marcus. (Not Chris. We can't go back to the bad old days of 41 minutes of Chris per game.) I guess Green was playing decent d, but who was he playing D against? Really? We needed to defend those guys? Green couldn't run the offense for crap. Had no clue about breaking down their zone. Listen, Hornets would have a pretty good second team with a point guard who could actually penetrate and pass. (We miss you, DC.) Jason Smith showed he could hit a few shots from outside and hustle on D. So you can have a lineup of Smith at center, Marcus, Peja, and Pondexter stretching the floor, and if you have a guard who can distribute the ball, they could provide consistent scoring from the backups. Everybody who pointed out that Marcus and Green don't play well together got it exactly right. So I was suddenly more interested in the health of Pargo, because I'd rather see the team take a chance on Pargo's streaky play than slog through possessions like they did with Green for the rest of the season. I hate when you pick up a player and then spend the rest of the season counting down to his contract expiration date. I also wondered what the game would have looked like with Ariza in the backcourt, at least just for a few defensive series to give a different look. Not that he's remotely a 2 by nature. And yeah, he was good closing down on the baseline shooters who usually have career nights against the Hornets forwards. But all summer I've been fantasizing about the Hornets as a squad with a break-first mentality. Belinelli is a step slow, so not much to hope for there in terms of consistent perimeter pressure leading to breakouts. It's just that, as much as the Hornets have struggled to score out of their set offenses, I can just visualize Chris Paul and Ariza closing down the passing angles, doing two man breaks all game long, and how much easier points would come for him if Ariza got some easy points early each game. I think Monty is in Marcus' head. There are some things you maybe don't mess with. I hope Monty will know when he comes to a point when he might need to back off just a wee bit and let MT5 be MT5.

JCS
JCS

Thanks for the recap guys. I forgot to record the game, b/c I was so focused on going to a networking event at a local museum, then off to church, and then Blockbuster to return the Karate Kid. For what it's worth, I prayed that Dan Gilbert's hex didn't land in NOLA, so after reading about the win it appears my prayers were answered! Now whether the hex has made it's way to South Beach or not, I don't know. Nor do I claim the whole thing to be true. However, I do know that a Hornets team with so many fresh faces need to capitalize on the depleted teams with better chemistry, any chance they get. The reason being, is that it's obvious our combination of guys who haven't played together, played in the Southwest Division, or played that long in the NBA, will not work in our favor. Thus, we must scrap when the scrapping is good and take as many W's as we can.

MaxALM
MaxALM

Good sign our bench held it together and ran away with it in the 4th. Miami might not have a great bench, but still good news. Looks like Belinelli is gonna be goooooooood for us. Looks like he can run the point well as a backup option. I really was hoping to see Thornton in place of Green in the 4th quarter. That lineup with MT5 in it could have been sick! Marco-Marcus-Q-Pon-Smith-Grey i think could develop into a special identity off the bench. Too early to say.... I wonder why Marcus didn't get much playing time considering his poor performances in the first two games. I'm not worried, but I would want to make sure Thornton gets his shot back before the real season starts. Maybe Monty is fueling him up?

TopherPrice
TopherPrice

I'm starting to think that maybe he is just having a big issue defensively, and when he is not on offensively Monty would rather have defense on the court at the cost of Marcus potentially heating up. I hope I am wrong, that is why I can't wait until the next televised game so I can watch him exclusively on D when he comes in the game. It didn't look good from the first play he was on the court. They inbounded the ball, and backed Marcus right into a pick that shed him completely out of the rest of the play. I think that is what it was about. For all my hatred of Green's game on the offensive side when he was trying to play PG, he did a good job on the defensive end when not paired with Marcus.

StefanC
StefanC

Whether we were lost on offense or not, it should be noted that we recorded ONLY 8 turnovers. Positive sign right there as well. The other bright side being... Marco! Marco! Marco! Cookies! Belinelli! Cookie Monster! Nelli! Italy! Italia! Oh yeeeaaaah!

TopherPrice
TopherPrice

Marco has handles and court vision. He has all the passing ability and ability to create for others that Darren showed last season. I really don't feel like I am overstating. Maybe tonight was an aberration, but I don't think so. It looked too natural and too fluid for him. He had one bounce pass cross court after a drive that was picked because he tried too hard of a pass. You almost saw him wish he could pull it back the second he let it go. There were at least 3 shots I can think of that his drive and kick to a guy on the wing created a wide open shot the recipient just didn't knock down. He needs some time at backup point. He has the best court vision and passing I see in anyone on the Hornets after CP3. Mek was playing like a man possessed in the first 8 minutes. It was nice to see. Smith's shot looked ugly early on. As said, he was burned on 1 on 1 defense all night, but man did he crash some boards. Every shot he was going after. You would just see a white blur fly through the air in the paint out of no-where. I think he can be a good bench 4, but is definitely not ready for minutes against starting 4's. Green is not a PG. The only time he became effective was when Marco came in for Marcus at the start of the 4th quarter. He then began knocking down spot up jumpers, set up by the drive and dish of Marco. And he and Marcus do not work well together on defense. They get mixed up and end up letting one of their guys go while hedging into the paint and boom wide open guy backside for a jumper. I am going to keep an eye out next game to see who seems more at fault, but it always seemed like they ended up right next to each other with the "oh crap" look when the pass would fly behind them to the open shooter. Grey was energetic, hit his FT, and fouled well. He also contested toughly in the paint. He didn't wow me, but he was part of the push in that got the team back in the lead and held it. The rest did not make an impression. Oh except Q, I don't know about blowing the dunk on that break... I was surprised he got up after the way he was tackled mid-dunk.

HornetMetairie
HornetMetairie

Marco Belieneli really had the most to contribute tonight, penetrating the lane very well and playing meaningful minutes. He hustled on d and was on the boards quite often. Hopefully he keeps this up and well have ourselves an awesome alternative to (my boy) Marcus thornton as a dynamic scorer.

LSUhornet17
LSUhornet17

Bellinelli looked great for most of the game. The defensive effort is definitely there, even if the ability sometimes isn't. He could probably be the second-best passer on the team. Most of his assists came on wide open looks, often as a result of his penetration (He also had a couple assists blown by guys missing open shots). Gray looked solid, besides showing no touch around the basket. He brought his normal good rebounding, and had a couple nifty passes along the baseline. He's got that ability if he gets the chance to show it off. Smith probably just locked up the backup PF spot with this one performance. Even if this was a fluke and he can only consistently bring half of his production tonight, it would still be infinitely more than Alexander or Pops has shown up until this point. With the signing of Mbenga, I would be surprised if either Pops or Joe make the team. If Green can continue to knock down open 3s, he may be a serviceable option behind Paul after all. Though, I think he looked best when he was working off the ball with Belli running the show. Theoretically he could do the same with Buckets on the floor, but Marcus hasn't shown the passing ability that would make this particularly desirable. Marcus needs to get out of this funk. Like now.