The Pacers beat the Hornets

The Hornets and Pacers clashed last night in Indiana, and the Hornets lost by 98-101(Box Score) after a very close finish that could have gone either way.  One thing, though, is clear.  Monty didn’t care at all about winning the game.  For the entire fourth quarter, the team rolled with bench players plus Belinelli, with Belinelli serving as the shot-creator.

Even with the Pacers running with their starting five and best rotation players, (Granger went out halfway through the game) Monty stuck to his guns and kept the reserves in there to figure out what they could do.  Considering that – the reserves didn’t do so badly.

Marco Belinelli

For a lot of the game, Marco played well.  He worked off of other players, drove when he was closed out on, and generally made good decisions.  Then it became crunch time.  From that point on, he took 18 or 20-foot leaners, shots as he was fading away, and generally tried to be the hero.  I’m fine with it.  We all know West and Paul will be in there in the fourth and they are much better options – having him there going against the third tier of a teams defense rather than the first, will be a benefit at the end of games.

I did notice that all of his three pointers were rushed, with his feet not set.  That makes me sad.  Always set your feet.  Or move the ball.

Jason Smith

Some of you are going to hate this guy.  It’s a given.  He’s awkward, loses control of the ball while rebounding when he should have an iron grip on it, and he just doesn’t come across as impressive.  However, I really liked what he was doing.  He moved his feet, he set picks, he battled.  He’s not a starter, but he’s our best backup big man at the moment, and I think he fits nicely into almost any teams 4-man big rotation.  14 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks in 23 minutes last night.

Marcus Thornton

Thornton’s line was awful.  I watched the tape again this morning, and if he hadn’t already shot poorly in two previous games, I would have shrugged this one off without a second thought.  Four of his shots were point blank at the rim, and just dribbled around the rim and fell off the other side.  The other was a mid-range leaner that wasn’t good, but it wasn’t a bad shot either.  I’m torn about this.  Marcus has shown nothing this pre-season to warrant longer minutes, but last year he did a lot to warrant longer minutes.  While I want Williams to make people earn their time on the court, I’m horrified by the idea of Thornton vanishing to the end of the bench and not having enough chances to work out what is happening.

Other observations:

  • If that performance last night doesn’t end Joe Alexander’s chance at the rotation – or maybe even the team, I’ll be surprised.  He was being absolutely destroyed by Tyler Hansbrough.  I actually felt a little bad for him.
  • Pops Mensah-Bonsu had some nice energetic moments crashing the boards, and some terrible ones, including rebounding the nice stop at the end of the game, Hornets down 1, and then throwing it at Willie Green with two Pacers standing between them.  Game over.
  • Some of you are coming down hard on Willie Green.  I’ve found him to be perfectly adequate as a backup point guard the past couple games.  I’m not saying he’s great, but he protects the ball, can easily bring it up against pressure, and then gets the ball to the right people to initiate the offense.  His defense has been fairly solid as well.
  • Paul and Okafor looked pretty good out there.  The starting group is nice.
  • Ariza is a ball-stopper.  If it touches his hands, he has to first think about what he can do with it before moving it on.  He also drives a lot into traffic and then turns around and has to pass it out, having gained no advantage for his team.  He’s still got his moments, though.
  • Peja looked nice, but I’m already heartily sick of seeing him be matched up against opposing power forwards.  He gets manhandled so badly and gives up and-one’s like candy.
  • Watkins and Strawberry got some limited minutes and had limited impact.  Stawberry hounded Collison into a turnover, and Watkins showed he likes to throw elbows.
  • Pondexter wasn’t getting anything done.  In twelve minutes, he missed a shot, got an assist, and had a foul.  I wish I could say more, but I don’t have any notes about him at all.  Odd, I even remember thinking I needed to watch what he was doing specifically.

That’s it.  Another game tonight vs the Atlanta Hawks.  Hopefully Thornton will make a shot.

10 responses to “The Pacers beat the Hornets”

  1. I like what Jason Smith is doing as well. He always gives an effort while making minimal mistakes, and that’s all we can ask for. Considering he grabbed more rebounds than David West usually does, that’s not a bad stat line at all.

    I also still absolutely LOVE Belinelli’s ability to drive and pass. Even when his shot isn’t falling, he tends to find ways to help the team. I still can’t believe we traded a bag of Doritos for him.

    Oh and does anybody have a link for tonight’s game against the Hawks?? I can’t find this game anywhere on TV.

  2. New here, and just wanted to comment on what I’ve seen in the preseason… I’m not familiar with Thornton’s play last season but I’ve got to think what he’s done (or not done) so far is a result of playing alongside Green. No matter how much lipstick you put on this pig (Green), he’s barely adequate as a backup PG.

    I totally agree Thornton is an important piece to this team’s success. He could start (and I personally think Marco is a better 6th man than starter) but at this point his play doesn’t warrant it. The only thing I can think of as to getting him untracked is possibly having Belinelli play the wing alongside Marcus and Green, instead of having the two sub in and out for each other, and having Green continue to defend the opposing team’s PG.

  3. Pops appreciation is back!
    Now if you have read any of my posts over the last week you know that I am a big pops fan.
    Why? Well I am a brit and we haven’t got too many ballers to shout for.
    I managed to see the game over the net last night and have to say this. Pops looked good in parts but nothing to what he can do. I thought he defended well, had a few good passes and had alot of energy. Rebounds per minute rate was good and I can’t see too many re-bounders on this team.
    However he looks lost in the offence. I don’t know why because I have seen him when he really attacks the basket and look in control in offence. You arn’t going to see him shoot from more than two foot away from the basket but he just seems to be dashing about setting a few picks looking a little bewildered.However saying that I thought everyone except Belinelli looked lost in offence.
    From what I saw yesterday Pops has a place on this team. Maybe back up PF to Smith but unless any trades take that spot he deserves the place. I would prefer to seem in in Europe getting better minutes but the NBA is the always the dream.
    Regards the others I was very disappointed with Gray, to be obvious he just looked like a lump in the middle of the court. I thought he was awful. I wish Pops was 6’11 + as he would compete Okafor for starting C. There is much more skill in Okafor.
    Overall Pops did a good job on what really looks a bad reserve team.

  4. I hear a lot of commentators express that the Hornets don’t have enough firepower, and many times it’s the opposing team’s analysts who don’t watch our team enough that say this. However, I will state this: Sometimes it’s not about adding pieces, but rather removing the ones that don’t work!

    Clearly, as it pains me to state this, once Marcus Thornton was regulated to the bench, the team began to play better! It’s the truth, and anyone who disagrees to what we all saw last night I’m interested in other view points. One thing is for sure, Monty Williams definitely believed in this addition-by-way-of subtracting MT5 from the rotation in the second half.

    Am I blaming Marcus for the 18-point deficit that existed at one point? No, but I’d be lying if I said he wasn’t the main factor of it. He dominates the ball too much for him not to take a lot of blame or credit, depending on how the team is executing. Nevertheless, what happen last night? Insert DJ Strawberry, who has better fundamentals than MT5, and our second unit erases an 18-point deficit within five minutes of play. With Marcus Thornton on the bench!

    Aaron Gray should have been another casualty of this too. I’m sorry yawl, but Gray will always be clumsy no matter how much weight he loses. I’m not hating either. Every mock depth-chart I’ve done has included him … hoping improvements would be made from game-to-game. Monty Williams cannot be serious about playing this guy consistent minutes.

    Now, for more serious matters from last night’s game, being that we all witnessed a homicide from one of our team’s brothers / teammates. It was sad to see Tyler Hansbrough murder Joe Alexander. Too bad the refs couldn’t stop the bleeding sooner before he picked up his 4th foul in four minutes. Monty Williams sure has a heart, because he actually attempted to save Alexander by placing him on the bench for the rest of the game. Now, may we have a moment of silence for young Joe, as we bow our heads. Joe Alexander will be sorely missed. Not!

    The thing about Joe Alexander is true for most ‘tweeners’ … it’s hard for them to have success in the NBA. No matter what you say about David West, he, as a ‘tweener’, has had some success in this league. Joe Alexander is the reason Rashard Lewis got going in that 54-point preseason loss to the Magic. He will be cut soon … along with Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Mustafa Shakur, and Watkins.

    It’s safe to say with the emergence of Jason Smith, Marco Belinelli, and Willie Green, who have all made progress from game-to-game, will definitely shorten Monty Williams’ rotation to:

    F-West, F-Ariza, C-Okafor, G-Belinelli, G-Paul

    6th-Green (PG / SG)
    7th-Smith (C / PF)
    8th-Stojakovic (SF / PF)
    9th-Thornton (SG)
    10th-Strawberry (SG / PG)
    11th-Gray (C)
    12th-Mbenga (C)

    Most nights will involve an 8-man rotation, but hopefully a 9-man rotation will emerge once Marcus gets it together. Nevertheless, the Hornets would be just fine, barring injury, with an 8-man rotation that excluded Marcus Thornton.

    Your thoughts….


    • Given the F-League performances of Gray and Alexander how do you figure Pops and Watkins are getting cut? Also, why have Mbenga as the back up to the back up center? We’re still clueless as to what Watkins does, but Gray’s 2 fouls every 5 minutes and zero blocks a game, can’t place him ahead anyone.

      As for the Thorton, I’m afraid it would dishearten him to be 9th in the rotation. How about putting him along side Beli and let’s see how their chemistry works out.

      Strawberry can stay at 10th – I don’t see any problem with that, but Shakur is a wild card. I think we should hang on to him for as long as possible.

    • Forgot about quincy I think but maybe you deliberately left him out. I would take him over one of those last 2.

      • your absolutely right ‘DownUnder’…. I can’t forget about Pondexter. Darn, I knew I forgot someone … thanks.

        F-West, F-Ariza, C-Okafor, G-Belinelli, G-Paul

        6th-Green (PG / SG) back-up both Paul & Belinelli
        7th-Smith (C / PF) back-up both Okafor & West
        8th-Stojakovic (SF / PF) back-up Ariza & West
        9th-Thornton (SG) if extra scoring punch is needed
        10th-Strawberry (SG / PG) if extra defense is needed
        11th-Pondexter (SF) if extra defense is needed
        12th-Gray if extra rebounding is needed
        13th-Mbenga-if someone gets hurt


  5. Not only is Green a poor fit as backup PG , but I believe he has and will continue to hurt Thornton’s play , i’d rather of seen a 4th quarter lineup consisting of a Belinelli and Thornton backcourt. Green is a shoot first undersized back up two guard. He doesn’t create for anyone and often forces up bad shots. presuming that our B squad will continue to feature Thornton and Peja as the scorers I think you could argue that the most desired trait in a backup PG for our situation would be that of a distributor, a guy who makes good decisions and plays within himself. Green is the guy who gets stuck and drives the lane late in the shot clock.

    Don’t get me wrong I want as much as anyone for Green to work out but 7 years in the league this guy is who he is , it’s not a Jason Smith deal (young big guy works hard and grows into a role ). Who I agree has surprised the past few games.

    Ariza had particularly good stretch in the 3rd , causing turnovers, hitting that corner three ( without hesitation ) , and that fadeaway and1. For what it’s worth , I think Peja is trying hard and will always be able to shoot the lights out no question bout that ….. as for Joe Alexander I think he may be done, you can’t keep a guy who was dominating by a guy named Psycho – T .

  6. Green is not responsible for Thornton’s struggles, at least not to the extent that some are trying to suggest.

    The challenge for Thornton was always and is still the same: affecting the game even when his offense is not clicking. Thornton is letting his offense affect his defense. We have not seen him rotating particularly well nor have we seen him jumping passing lanes or hitting the offensive glass. All these things he did well last year and all things that have nothing to do with Willie Green.

  7. I don’t get to watch the games consistently as I live in Asia so most of my info comes from stats, recaps, video highlights, player profiles and blogs like this. Having said that …

    I think there are different things you can ask for from your point guard or back-up point depending on the construction of the team. To safely bring the ball up-court and initiate the offense is cool for a back-up or even a starter when you have another/other player(s) to create (or run) the offense. Ryan and Joe have suggested that Green isn’t bad (in fact pretty good) in the role of bringing the ball up safely and initiating the offense but it seems like a poor fit to me as the Hornets don’t have the personnel to make it work. And Thornton seems to be suffering (at the hands of the fans) for it.

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