Game On: Hornets at Thunder

By:
Published: November 29, 2010

Matchup: Hornets(12-4) @ Thunder(11-6)

Off Efficiency: Hornets 104.6(12th), Thunder 106.4(8th)
Def Efficiency: Hornets 97.6(3rd), Thunder 105.4(18th)

Thanks to the amazing Dariusz Ejkiewicz for the Game Day Banner.

This is a bit of a role reversal for the Thunder this year.  Last year, they got by on exceptional defense and ordinary offense.  This season they have a good offense and a mediocre defense.  Their offense, however, doesn’t so much rely on shooting excellence but on the ability to draw free throws and knock them down.  NBA teams generally draw free throws on 31.7% of their shot attempts.  The Thunder draw them on 40% of theirs.  That is a huge advantage, and it essentially wipes out the fact the Thunder shoot less well than their opponents, turn the ball over more, and are out-rebounded on the offensive end.   It’s amazing what attacking the basket can do for you.

Defensively, the Thunder aren’t too different from last year:  They allow a huge number of shots right at the basket, allowing 26.3 shots at point blank range.  The league average is only 21.8.  Last year, they also allowed the 2nd most shots at the rim, but managed to defend them and force misses anyways.  The difference is this year the Thunder aren’t defending those shots well, giving up a higher than league average shooting percentage.

That, of course, means the Hornets will need to attack the basket, which is not what they do, being a largely jumpshooting team.  It’ll be interesting to see how that works out – which will win out, the inclination to shoot jumpers, or the wide open lanes to the basket?

Side Note: the trade earlier this year that sent them Peterson and Cole Aldrich to the Thunder for Pondexter and Brackins(who basically turned into Jason Smith) hasn’t panned out for them so far.  Aldrich has been sent to the D-League to gain experience, and Morris Peterson has played 7 minutes for them.  I’d rather have Pondexter and Smith.  You?

Injuries:

Hornets: None
Thunder: Krstic is struggling with back spasms.  He may play, and if he does, will replace Ibaka at center.

Positional Analysis

PG: Russell Westbrook v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
Among all the young point guards in the league like Rose and Well, it is Westbrook who is the most impressive.  He draws 9 free throws a game as he attacks from the perimeter, which is a huge number for any NBA player, much less a point guard.  This allows him to score at a highly efficient rate despite poor shooting ability.  Scoring, however, is not his best attribute any longer, as it had been in the past.  He has cut his turnovers while upping his assists, and now posts a respectable assist to turnover rate.  He rebounds well.  He can be a lock-down defender.  This should be a fantastic battle tonight, because it’s not a huge edge in favor of CP3.

SG: Thabo Sefolosha v Marco Belinelli
Advantage: Hornets
Thabo plays good defense, and finishes enough layups in transition to make him useful, while contributing to the boardwork.  Still, he’s a guy you can cheat off of regularly defensively and not be stung by it.  Marco may have trouble getting easy open shots, but he should still be more effective than Thabo.

SF: Kevin Durant v Trevor Ariza
Advantage: Thunder
Durant is having a poor shooting season so far.  It doesn’t matter.  He still draws lots of free throws and knocks them down, keeping his scoring at an efficient level.  He’s also been a bit one-dimensional, serving up few assists and rebounds this season, but he’s a threat to be worried about.  Ariza will have his hands full and might see long minutes if he can avoid foul trouble.  I cringe to think about who might be guarding Durant when/if Ariza has to take a break.  Pondexter?  Willie Green?  Yikes.

PF: Jeff Green v David West
Advantage: Hornets
Jeff Green is averaging 18 points and 7 rebounds a game, and is scoring at the most efficient rate of his career.  I’m still here to tell you he’s not helping the Thunder.  Every year, he posts the worst +/- for his team.  He does very little at an above average rate.  David West typically punishes him in the post – and Green responds by shooting lots from deep – something he’s not actually that good at.  Usually, the Thunder put Nick Collison in pretty quickly against West – which help them tremendously.

C: Serge Ibaka v Emeka Okafor
Advantage: Even
I hope this will be even.  Ibaka is all athleticism and energy.  Okafor is all power and angles.  Ibaka is undersized, but I don’t know if he’s undersized enough to make this matchup any easier for Okafor.  Their numbers are similar, but Okafor should have the advantage on the boards.  We’ll see.  If Krstic comes back – then I think Okafor has the advantage, but that makes the bench scary.

Bench
Nick Collison, DJ White, Eric Maynor, and James Harden
Jason Smith, Jarrett Jack, Willie Green, Marcus Thornton
Advantage: Thunder
Even with Ibaka in the starting lineup, this bench is pretty solid.  Harden, who can’t finish a shot at the rim, has re-discovered his shot from deep, Maynor is a low-mistake backup, and Nick Collison defends hard and does a good job on the boards.  DJ White is serviceable in small minutes.  If Ibaka joins this crew, we might see some second unit scoring runs if Willie Green(or Thornton?) isn’t on.

Enjoy the Game!  Talk it up!

76 Comments

  1. nikkoewan

    November 29, 2010 at 11:19 am

    there it is! i’ve been waiting for this! i hate durant(because he is currently killing my fantasy team)! i hope durant has a GREAT game, and everybody else have a SUPER BAD GAME. that way i’m win win (my fantasy team wins, my Hornets win!) WOOT! But if it weren’t for fantasy, I hope Ariza forces Durant to shoot jumpers. IF Durant gets to the rim and draw lots of fouls, we’re toast.

  2. Michael McNamara

    November 29, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Aldrich is basically Nick Collison at best and they just gave Collison an extension- so I don’t get it. I think they would have been better served with another shooter like James Anderson or another defensive minded big like Larry Sanders.

    As you will all hear on the upcoming podcast- I am terrified of this game. The Thunder have weaknesses but they align perfectly with the Hornets weaknesses. The Hornets should pound the rock inside without mercy, but they will settle for jump shots which plays right into OKC’s hands.

    This game could get Utah ugly IMO, but of course I am hoping I am wrong.

    • downtowndave

      November 29, 2010 at 1:39 pm

      I fear all games after yesterday.

    • sportnlife

      November 29, 2010 at 6:59 pm

      Would take exception to the “trade” scenario posed by Ryan, though. Hornets wouldn’t have taken Aldrich, IMO. There was better value there in wing players (e.g. Xavier Henry) and bigs (e.g. Ed Davis) that should have come off the board before Aldrich. Frankly, we could use either one now, though Davis hasn’t played due to injury.

      Oh, wait. That was before we got a front office that actually knew the players because they had scouted them and seen them play. . . . Well, in that case . . . .

  3. 42

    November 29, 2010 at 11:58 am

    I’m looking forward to this challenge. So far I think the teams we are on the level with in the West are Dallas (yuck), Denver, Jazz (head-to-head matchup may be poor, agreed) and Thunder. We are in that pack, I think, until we harden a little more. The conference standings agree, conveniently. That may be January, March, or October. If I had to add a team, I’d say the Suns.

    Sure, the bad guys may suffer some blow or collapse, but that’s not a good basis for directing your improvement.

    Anyway, I see this as pure data. It’ll go down as a win or a loss. Really, if you win most of the `easy games’ (Clippers . . . grrrr) and split the others, you are in the playoffs, perhaps as cannon fodder, but you are in; we can do that.

    This, however, is the last of those teams in our playoff pack to face; thus, I see it as more of a `first quarter’ even if the playoff rules don’t see it that way. These are essentially the first and second round opponents `today’. Sure, we need to make the playoffs, but let’s keep our eye looking forward, like Phil Jackson does, on the prize: learning to make a run in the playoffs.

    • HiMyNameisSteven

      November 29, 2010 at 12:35 pm

      the suns really? no way i picked them to finish 10th out west and i still dont think they will make the playoffs. J. Rich has been very good this year but we are starting to see how overrated hedo is and that nash is starting to get up there in age even though he still plays well

      • 42

        November 29, 2010 at 12:48 pm

        Really, IF I had to. I don’t have to. But of, say, them, Golden State, Portland, and Memphis . . . I’ll take them.

        They won at LAL and at Utah. Sure, they have lost some against both good and bad teams. We’ve dropped one to a bad team ourselves, and one each to three of the four teams above us in the West; of course, we split the series with those we played twice. Their record is not a `even’ as ours, but I see them as the most likely of the `next’ teams to elevate their play. The magnitude of this happening . . . I don’t know.

  4. Mikey

    November 29, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    That was a defensive clinic put on by the Spurs yesterday in the 2nd half. George Hill was the difference-maker. I’ve never seen anyone shadow a mostly-healthy CP and give him fits the way that Hill did. There were 3 straight possessions in the 3rd quarter where Chris had to give the ball up early in the shot clock and never got it back. We were relying on Ariza to create offense. Guess how that turned out? When CP was able to find West, the Spurs swarmed him with 2 defenders and got him away from his comfortable spots. All the while, they cornered west and took away his easy passing lanes. I’m a Hornet fan thru and thru, but that was the finest example of team defense that I’ve seen in a long time.

    All the Thunder have to do is replicate that effort…… not likely. They get mad CP and Mr. Angry West. Look for Westbrook to go at CP on the offensive end and try to get him in foul trouble.

    • QueenBee

      November 29, 2010 at 3:56 pm

      CP should’ve crossed Hill’s arse over the way he did in SA. LOL! Nahh, that probably wouldn’t have worked yesterday. Hill probably had a better hold of his ankles yesterday.

  5. skiele

    November 29, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    There is a pretty simple solution to the west double team, But dwest exploited it only once (vs the spurs): unload the ball to the shooters when you’re doubled, or when the shoot is too difficult

    • OkiJeff

      November 29, 2010 at 2:57 pm

      Yep, I saw several times where West was doubled or Ariza was attempting ????drive??? and Marco was wide open in the corner for three. Let’s get some ball movement besides CP3 to DWest!!!

      Oh and the fast break where MT5, CP3 and Green all ran into the lane at the same time was comical. MT5 learn from Marco something called spacing and you could have had a wide open three : )

  6. Basketball Goals

    November 29, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    This should be a great game.

  7. Diane

    November 29, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Thanks for the analysis Ryan. Sorry I can’t make it to the game – out cause of flu like symptoms – unlike Carmelo yesterday I won’t even attempt to start the game.

    I look forward to seeing the guys on TV – watching on the internet just doesn’t get it. The Hornets are in luck KD is in some kind of slump and Westbrook didn’t look like himself either yesterday – is slumpitis catching? It will be a great match up to watch Westbrook and Paul they will probably run each other ragged. But since its back to back for both teams who knows what will happen.
    Please just play safe.

    • QueenBee

      November 29, 2010 at 4:01 pm

      It’s a back to back but the Thunder is the home team. That alone gives them a better chance.

  8. BeesGivingEffort

    November 29, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    I won’t be surprised if Westbrook is considered a better player than Durant at some point in the next year or two. The kid is a freak and only getting better.

  9. QueenBee

    November 29, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    I’m not looking forward to this game. Probably because I don’t know which Hornets team will show up. When I think they’ll lose, they win. And win I think they’ll win, they lose. I’m not too confident about tonight but I guess I’ll be watching.

  10. ChrisTrewdotCom

    November 29, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Kevin Durant was in a theater class with one of my improv students here in Austin and said to him, “You a virgin, huh?”

    • QueenBee

      November 29, 2010 at 4:03 pm

      Someone said that to Durant?

  11. Forever504

    November 29, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    good start so far

  12. nikkoewan

    November 29, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    i’m in my statistics class and i’m looking at the NO-OKC gamecast(via ESPN). I’m half studying and half looking at the box score. Some how i feel that we need to win this just to prove a point to Michael(just listened to the Podcast). Prove michael wrong! HAHA

  13. peronas

    November 29, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Belinelli needs to stop thinking so much just catch and shoot if you’re open. Stop trying to do too much.

  14. JaeAmazin

    November 29, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    @ QueenB..Why are you not confident about tonight..We have a Chance to win every game if we play our game

    • QueenBee

      November 29, 2010 at 7:30 pm

      Now that my friend is true. IF we play our game.

  15. Michael McNamara

    November 29, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Exactly as I feared- Hornets are depending on their jumper. Eventually those stop falling. You gotta attack OKC INSIDE!

  16. peronas

    November 29, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Westbrook is just absurdly quick to the rim.

  17. QueenBee

    November 29, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Hornets need to attack the rim. They’re settling for jumpers as though the Thunder have a hard enforcer Charles Oakley in there or something. LMAO. Attack the rim and draw your own damn fouls.

  18. nikkoewan

    November 29, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    why is Peja and Bayless on our roster?(check out Yahoo! Sports)

    • QueenBee

      November 29, 2010 at 7:43 pm

      Yahoo is sleeping. They haven’t caught up yet. LOL!

  19. MaxALM

    November 29, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Our bench unit really needs to learn how to play defense collectively. We’re playing solid offensively but the defense just looks wimpy, esp the bigs. We really need another big

  20. QueenBee

    November 29, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Thats right Willie. Take it in there.

    And the Hornets need to watch Ibaka cuz he’ll have a block party on you. I call him Iblocka. LOL!!

    Jack for 3!!

  21. QueenBee

    November 29, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    Why does Harden have a 50 year old mans beard?

    • JCS

      November 29, 2010 at 8:24 pm

      LOL…He looks like a slim Rick Ross.

  22. peronas

    November 29, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Can we please stop going to Smith? He’s not getting open for his shot and he’s a black hole for ball movement right now.

  23. QueenBee

    November 29, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Gotta watch out for those back door cuts man.

  24. QueenBee

    November 29, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Everytime the Thunder goes down the floor on offense a player stops at the 3 point line and that player will get the ball 8 times out of 10. Hornets need to look for that.

  25. QueenBee

    November 29, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    WTH was that Ariza??!! That should’ve been an easy two points man. Come on now.

  26. QueenBee

    November 29, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Alright Trevor!

  27. QueenBee

    November 29, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    I don’t guess Marcus will see any PT huh? Could he not have gotten Willie’s PT to end this quarter at least?

  28. HiMyNameisSteven

    November 29, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    @ryan- maybe youll have a different opinion on jeff green and his shooting ability after this game

  29. QueenBee

    November 29, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Ok that was nice what CP3 and Emeka did there to end the first half.

  30. HiMyNameisSteven

    November 29, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    also chris paul looks like greg oden in the banner

  31. hewhorocks

    November 29, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Movement without the ball gets an easy layup at the end of the first half… pretty.

  32. QueenBee

    November 29, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Hornets were outrebounded by 7 in the first half. We need to do a better job of hitting the glass. LET’S GEAUX HORNETS!!!

  33. Diane

    November 29, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    @BeegivingEffort

    The debate has started here in OKC -Westbrook will overtake Durant this year. You can see Westbrook is really trying to get Kevin started again – I think he will Durant is just in a little slump now but I’ve seen Durant and he can tear to the basket fast just keep your eyes open.

  34. mbdtf

    November 29, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Please be okay Chris!

  35. peronas

    November 29, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Oh dear god….

  36. pinoyballah

    November 29, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    crap…pauls on the floor after saving it out of bounds.

    • pinoyballah

      November 29, 2010 at 8:35 pm

      hasnt he learned that saving balls that go out of bounds is dangerous!

  37. QueenBee

    November 29, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    OMG!!! Jack to Smith!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  38. JCS

    November 29, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    Is it me or are the Thunder fans wearing capes and blue leotards very disturbing?

    • Go Blue

      November 29, 2010 at 9:18 pm

      It’s just not you. They’re creeping me out.

  39. hewhorocks

    November 29, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Movement without the ball disappearing. I’m all for feeding West but if nothing else is going on it lets the other team rest on D (when they should be busting posterior)

  40. thekeymaster

    November 29, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    i know i’ve probably said this a lot so far this season but…i don’t think the refs have ever benefited the hornets yet this season, i’ve watched almost every game and its always been one sided. bs.

    • QueenBee

      November 29, 2010 at 9:29 pm

      I agree. I don’t know what’s really going on but I agree. I also noticed Byron Scott just recently criticized the refs and got fined $35K for it but I don’t remember him doing so when he coached the Hornets. What should be a foul on the Thunder wasn’t but on the other end it’s a foul on the Hornets. And Stern says respect the game? Yeah, ok.

  41. thekeymaster

    November 29, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    jeez this team is playing some crap ball lately

  42. peronas

    November 29, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Game over

  43. mbdtf

    November 29, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Tough loss. Our D played well for the most part, but down the stretch we couldn’t do anything on offense. Feeding West in the post and not moving does not work. Oh well. At least we’ve got some easy games coming up.

  44. Go Blue

    November 29, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    We can’t make a shot for anything.

  45. hewhorocks

    November 29, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    This game isnt being lost by bad D its being lost by stagnant offensive (that means 2 things) sets.

  46. jib

    November 29, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    I’ve seen better offense from Byron Scott… and I hated him. Wait haven’t scored in like 5 minutes, and we have an explosive sg on the bench who hasn’t played? Hmmmmmm

  47. jib

    November 29, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    And total choke by D West for the whole last half of the quarter. Had this one, pissed to see it let go.

  48. Go Blue

    November 29, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    We hold them to 38% shooting and Durant to 7 of 22. I don’t know what more they could had done on defense. Tough loss.

  49. QueenBee

    November 29, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    They done put West’s eye out and now he’s Ray effin Charles. Blind. Can’t see. Terrible. Just terrible.

  50. edbballin504

    November 29, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Why do we keep pounding D West? Do we have any other offensive options down the stretch. Its hard to watch when you play this way and everyone else just stands there while D West tries to bully his way to the basket. And I know David West got hit in the eye but COME ONNNNN MAN! Stop all that actin like a baby. The dude know he goes too far with his actions. LOL. Somebody give him a hug.

  51. hewhorocks

    November 29, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    On the plus side Mbenga got his 14+ min. Down the stretch the Hornets offense was pretty bad but werent hot other than the second quarter at all.

  52. edbballin504

    November 29, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Cant believe we let this one slip away…we need to find a way to close these games out. Its starting to happen too frequent. Its all good though, GO HORNETS!

  53. MaxALM

    November 29, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    GREAT LOSS GUYS.

    • JCS

      November 29, 2010 at 9:43 pm

      Great Loss?

  54. QueenBee

    November 29, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    I already have tickets for Wednesday. If they lose I’m gonna hurt something or somebody in the Arena. LOL!!

  55. Hornet

    November 29, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    God damnit Monty play Marcus. Our offense sucks and we need a scorer.

    • MaxALM

      November 29, 2010 at 9:57 pm

      And it’s not like Willie was playing well either. Left his man open alot. The Hornets lost their balls because they weren’t making shots. The defense wasn’t terrible, but they panicked and the offense went stagnant. I don’t know what happened to CP late in the game, but someone needed to step in and make a play. When you’re offense is struggling that bad, you need to be more flexible

  56. jib

    November 29, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Just a case of not enough scorers on the floor. The defense is great but you can’t consistently win like this. CP3 seems bent on being passive, so David West can’t close it out everynight so they need to look elsewhere, but does anyone wanna see Willie, Ariza, or Omeka to be that option? You can say Bellinelli but that should be mainly for catch and shoot purposes. Maybe it doesn’t have to be Marcus, because I’m slowly accepting it won’t be, and that is why I think a “create for himself” wing is necessary.

  57. Go Blue

    November 29, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    That was a pretty hard screen on Westbrook at end of the game. Ouch. I don’t know how I should feel about this, but it seems like the other team’s star players are always playing 4-7 more mins per game than CP3 and DWest. I know Monty wants to keep their minutes down, but it seems to be costing wins. Sigh.

  58. Go Blue

    November 29, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    I can’t think of another center that gets blocked more often than Emeka does. It’s shameful.

    • jib

      November 29, 2010 at 9:55 pm

      Bad time to mention Tyson is efficiently averaging 17 and 14 in his past 3? lol

  59. NOLA ALL DAY

    November 29, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Welllll guys, not to my surprise we lost again…We had a great start to the season but now reality is setting in. WERE NOT AS GOOD AS WE THOUGHT WE WERE. this is the straight up truth. We dont have a consistent scorer.(i would say cp3 is but he doesnt try to score as much as he used to) David West scores points but with lots of attempts, which doesnt help. Ariza and bellineli are the most inconsistent offensive players i can remember we have ever had. There 18 point guys one night and 7 to 10 the next and back and forth back and forth. Our only other decent scorer(Thornton) never plays because of his defense, if we have thornton on the floor scoring then why does it matter if his defense is struggling a little? we put him on the worst guard, everyone else on our team plays good D, but their offense is inconsistent. As pissed as ive been lately, maybe loosing lots of games will make dell demps come to realize that this team wont go anywhere unless he adds another playmaker/all star….iguodala cough cough carmelo..cough..excuse me guys. So what do you guys think??? PLEASE COMMENT

    Dueces Hornets Fans

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