The Thunder beat the Hornets

Published: November 29, 2010

The Hornets are starting to perfect the art of the late collapse, getting outscored in the fourth and losing to the Thunder 95-89(Box Score).  The Hornets gave up their lead through a series of turnovers, poor execution, and repeated attempts to take advantage of one player in the fourth who didn’t have it going or even really have an advantage.  That player, of course, was:

David West

He punished the hell out of Jeff Green all game long.  7 of his made shots were against Green.  The problem was, with the game on the line, Green wasn’t guarding West.  It was Kevin Durant, who is smarter, more athletic, and exactly the sort of player that has always given West problems – long and light on their feet.  West’s biggest nemesis in the game is Lamar Odom.  Durant isn’t that much different than him physically.  So the Hornets force fed West five out of six posessions over a crucial four  minutes from 5:00 to 1:00, and he got exactly no points.  The score went from 81-75 in the Hornets favor to 81-88 against.  He then went out after being hit in the eye, and the Hornets relied on Paul to initiate the offense and scored 6 quick points.  What was worse about the misses was the Hornets had cleared entire sides for West isolations so the entire team was loaded up on one side of the floor.  No one was therefore in position to go for offensive rebounds on half of the court – and the rest were all near the perimeter.  When West missed, the Thunder snatched up the ball and jammed it down the Hornets throat in transition, drawing foul after foul.

That leads me to:

Monty Williams

Dear Coach Williams,

West is moderately efficient as a scorer, but he is not brilliant.  Paul is a brilliant scorer and distributor.  Crunch time should be Chris Paul time, not David West time.  Actually, let me change that.  It can be David West time, but ONLY when he’s shooting after Chris Paul has broken down the defense.  The ball needs to start in Paul’s hands.  It can end wherever, but Paul needs to be creating the shot.

Thanks.  Great job so far, by the way.

Other Observations:

  • Paul was brilliant for most of the game, controlling everything, and for a long time, keeping Westbrook under control until he was able to get in transition against the Hornets late in the fourth.
  • The second unit struggled tremendously outside of Quincy Pondexter.  Jason Smith couldn’t hit anything, and Willie and Jack could get nothing within ten feet of the basket.  I said in the game preview we might have to suffer through some runs by the bench, and we did.  Jack was -11 for the game, Mbenga -12, and Green -4.
  • Ariza was brilliant defensively during the game.  Durant did most of his damage on a switch, when he was guarded by Green, of when Collison was setting a deadly series of screens for him.  Ariza made nothing easy for Durant, and I’m comfortable with him drawing that assignment any day of the week.
  • Okafor had a fantastic game rolling to the hoop and finishing inside.  I could have done with less Smith and Mbenga, and more than 31 minutes of Okafor.
  • Belinelli only shot one shot tonight with his feet set.  He kept fumbling the ball and shuffling before shooting.  He even got the ball on open shots twice and chose to dribble briefly, shuffle and semi-fade from a none-to-aggressive defender.  Predictably, he shot poorly.
  • Does anyone know why the Box Score says we have Joe Alexander on the team?
  • In the first half, the Hornets had a brilliant play going where they kept attacking the Thunder defense from sideline, generating open layups and lanes for Paul to get to the middle.  Strangely, they ran it at all in the second half.  It needed more play.

So the Hornets lose.  They are now 4-5 since their 8 game winning streak.  Let’s hope they can feast on Charlotte and New York over the coming two games.  They need some wins.  Go listen to the podcast, and scoff at me when I say the Thunder don’t scare me.

Though they still don’t.  So there!


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