Thunder Beat the Hornets

By:
Published: December 10, 2010

The Thunder beat the Hornets in what can only be described as a depressing game for the Bees. They had their chances, and gave/let them them away. The Hornets took it inside early and often, and for a while it appeared that David West would prove to be too much to handle for the visitors. In a game that pitted the former resident of Oklahoma City with the current one, fans saw some good quality basketball, mixed together with turnovers, inconsistent reffing, and awful clutch free throw shooting by the Hornets.

Within the first three minutes of the third quarter, Emeka took both his third and fourth fouls. Both were a bit ridiculous considering they were called because of how players reacted to being fouled, not the actual foul.

Enter the inadequacy of DJ Mbenga as a backup center. Without Okafor inside, the Hornets were outscored 11-0 in the next four minutes thanks to some questionable refereeing. It was just clear that the ref making calls on a few plays just wasn’t in proper position to get a good look at what was happening. The run ended on a David West steal which he threw ahead to a streaking Paul. After a timeout Monty put Jason Smith in for Mbenga and the Thunder run was officially finished.

Regardless, this whole Mbenga seeing consistent minutes thing isn’t going to work. Sorry, but he’s just not adequate.

Seemingly determined to get a season high game out of David West, Coach Monty Williams played him for 41 minutes and for the first three quarter wound up getting one of the best performances of West’s season. Despite four turnovers he entered the fourth quarter with a line of 24 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. In the fourth he didn’t score and had only a single rebound. The team needed more from him at that point, and again he was shut down by the Thunder when it mattered most.

Russel Westbrook looks sicker and sicker every time I see him. Sick in the good way, of course. He gets to the rim with ease, is physical enough to back down Paul, and does almost everything you can ask for on defense. His passing isn’t snazzy by any means, but it’s crisp, clean, and highly effective. I’d already Westbrook ahead of Rondo on my list of best point guards in the game.

That said, Paul got into his head today and forced a lot of unnecessary and uncharacteristic turnovers, including five in the first half. He didn’t stop playing, though, and continued to attack. He would finish with 29 points, 10 assists, and 7 turnovers. Despite the errant passing and subpar ball handling, he won this battle with CP3.

Speaking of Paul, he was nonexistent in the second half. There were points in the fourth quarter that I didn’t even realize he was on the floor. I know Michael doesn’t want him to, but if they were going to win this game, he needed to take over. It’s very odd to watch a close Hornets game at the Hive and see Paul do anything except take over. He and West disappearing played a big part in why the team wasn’t able to pull out a win.

Well, that and the team didn’t make their free throws. With the Hornets down 88-84, they started a stretch in which they missed six consecutive free throws. The usual culprits (Okafor and Ariza) missed five, and Belinelli added one more to the total before sinking his second. In the end those shots would prove to be the difference. It’s unacceptable to be doing that late in NBA games, and I imagine Monty will have them all working overtime next practice.

Other Player Notes

  • Jarret Jack played well, scoring 13 points on 7 shots. He added 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and three steals.
  • Can Ariza just stop shooting the ball on anything except wide open gimme’s? He’s just not an efficient scorer. Why is he taking only one less shot per game than the super efficient Chris Paul?
  • Belinelli was off early, but came on late and nearly led the comeback charge. He had 9 points in the final quarter, and 6 in the final three minutes.

Game Notes

  • Ex-owner Gary Chouest was back in his usual court side seats. I presume he’s paying for them now. Really though,  it’s good to see him still taking an interest in the team. it would be better if he was donating lots of money to the Save Our Hornets Foundation, but I guess for now we will have to settle for him watching games up close and staying involved.
  • The Hornets Sixth man (the crowd) was pretty solid tonight. They wound up with 14,428 (boo), but those in attendance were rowdy and loud. They were chanting, reacting, and stayed on their feet for the final minute thirty of the game.
  • Unfortunately, the Thunder had a sixth, seventh, and eight man who seemed determined to make sure things didn’t go the Hornets way. I’m starting to think that rookie head coaches get the same raw deal that rookie players do from the refs. Actually, I take that back. I’m positive that they do. The calls tonight just weren’t consistent.
  • The Hornets starters combined for 16 turnovers, the most they have combined for all year.
  • The Hornets had FOUR defensive three second violations called on them. That’s the most of the year.

Scott Brooks Quotes

  • On Paul- I see him do this all the time. Chris Paul is one of the best point guards in basketball. He’s a terrific player and he makes incredibly good plays throughout the game and is a two way player and aggressive against anyone he plays int eh game. He’s a very competitive player and wants to compete every time to the best of his ability.
  • On Durant- He brings it every day in practice, he brings it every day in games and that’s what good player do . You don’t get better because everyone tells you you’re good. you get better through work and he works extremely hard every day.

Don’t forget to come to our Watch Party on Monday at The Extreme Sports Bar and Grille at 535 Thcoupitoulas!

91 comments
QueenBee
QueenBee

Wow. I can't believe how early tomorrow's game is.

NOEngineer
NOEngineer

A key coaching error in the early 4th, when Westbrook came in and Monty left Paul on the bench. Westbrook got away from Jack twice in less than a minute to score 5 easy points. We never got the lead back after that. CP3 played much better D than anyone else on Westbrook.

LJ
LJ

It was puzzling to me seeing us play in the second half compared to our crisp first half. We had a good rhythm, albeit too quick for our own good, but we were getting good production. Then arrives half number 2 and we look terrible! I think the keys to this loss are: 1)Mbenga should not be getting PT over Aaron Gray, or anyone for that matter. 2)4 defensive 3 second violations, I'm not sure if they nailed all these free throws but they probably did. 3)Poor execution free throw shooting down the stretch, this is not the WNBA.

Ludiculous
Ludiculous

I'm suprisingly not that upset by this loss, obviously I would much rather a win, but at the same time a close loss to a playoff team that almost beat the Lakers last year in the post season is no where near as bad as blow out loss. There is deffinitly some things we need to fix, like maybe our entire second half game plan, but it was a close game and once Dell birngs in the final pieces to the championship team puzzle I think we are going to be good. I actually really liked the new uniforms too. I would also like to see the Hornets break at the Bucs uniforms, like they did a couple years ago. I really liked those.

JCS
JCS

Does anyone know our record with the alternate uniforms? Just curious.

42
42

I do.

42
42

Really? It's totally not what he said. Strictly speakin, I should have answered "Yes," as my answer was already over-stepping the scope of the question, but I figured I'd provide proof that the set of those with knowledge was nonempty (it's the mathematician in me). The one number has nothing to do with the other. As a businessman, you probably are tuned-in to the subtleties of what folks mean when they are talking. For the record, it's 0-1. Last evening was the game-debut of the those uniforms. There have been others through the years; that record, I do not know. Good stuff on putting that banner up (in advance). I think it's insulting to say business don't support the Hornets. You are an example. Lots of businesses I walk into have schedules there for the taking, for another class of example. Just because we don't have some `magic bullet' to end all the problems doesn't mean we aren't capable.

RobertM320
RobertM320

42, my guess is, he actually wanted a number lol! As soon as Joe gets me a banner for SOH, I'm putting it on the front page of my company's website. (Sometimes, its good to be the boss!) Promote, promote, promote.

James Online
James Online

Lost on everyone? Sefolosha's line: 36 minutes, 1 shot, 2 points. Who defended him? That would be Marco. Sefalosha did not even TOUCH the ball for most of the first half. Oh, and that one shot was a run out. Marco plays prevent man-to-man defense as well as anyone in the league. I watched the game on NBA League Pass with the OKC TV guys calling the game. They quoted Monty as saying he is trying to change up the offense to be less Paul-West tag team. You saw that last night. There was more motion and variety to the offense. Give the team time to make this transition and you'll see a more effective offensive system start to work. Thanks again to Monty for leaving Thornton nailed to the bench where he belongs. Great to see Jack start to get his footing and more confidence in his shot (though he will always be shoot-first PG). The game was lost at the free throw line. Overall, the Hornets played well.

42
42

Yup. I didn't notice the Sefolosha stuff at first, but in retrospect, you are right. He was a point of emphasis in my mine, like I should pay attention to him the most aside from 0 and 35, and then it just went away. I noticed some more plays generally, including plays with D West in other positions, wide open halfway to the corner for instance.

BeesGivingEffort
BeesGivingEffort

LMAO "Marco plays prevent man-to-man defense as well as anyone in the league." In the last 10 games, he has played 3 legitimate SG's. Ginobili, Roy, and Gordon have all dropped 23,27,27 on him respectively on 48%,50%,50% shooting respectively. Sorry. But unlike Thornton, Belinelli has a sample size and it's not nearly as awesome as everyone makes it out to be. Why ya'll hate Thornton without even seeing him this year, I do not understand. Belinelli is an above average defender that lacks the athleticism to compete with the studs in this game on both ends of the court. It is what it is.

BeesGivingEffort
BeesGivingEffort

It's not personal. The thing is, the second people start giving up on Marcus Thornton is the second we lose all leverage of him actually playing this season. So I will moan to all hell because, in my opinion, Monty Williams has really botched this up. Don't talk about +/- with Thornton last year because he got bumped to the bench for a large chunk of time because our 2nd unit was THAT BAD. Also, Jeff Bower was our coach and we STILL won 37 games, even though CP3 got hurt when we were hovering around .500 and when he came back, we were still around .500. I'm sorry, but to discount the fact that 2 rookies kept that craptastic team at .500 last year is purely moronic for Monty to do. Don't even give me the stat stuffer argument either. Those 2 kids were winners. Kevin Love and Michael Beasley are stat stuffers. Those 2 won ballgames. To give the argument that Thornton doesn't fit is purely speculation of a player than exceeded all expectations last year. Why would people lay down their arms on him this year?

yeah yeah
yeah yeah

BTW, I thought anyone with any intelligence wouldn't need to resort to insults because someone didn't agree with him. I made a respectful argument in my first post, but I obviously see you don't deserve that.

yeah yeah
yeah yeah

GEEZ BEES, haha I'm definitely not pro-Belinelli or anti-Thornton. Did you even read what I wrote? I said Belinelli is a better fit for the 1st team offense right now because he's an efficient shooter who can hold his own on defense. I didn't tout him as a great defender, merely pointed out that those numbers you put out weren't because of him (I personally think Sefalosha's just not a good offensive threat). I've been to about 20 games in the last 2 seasons, so I've spent my money to see both guys up close and personal. I merely referenced the highlight vids to make sure I wasn't wrong in that Ariza guards the best wing player most of the time. Honestly, questioning my fandom because you can't take what I say is seriously immature. The +/- stat you pull out is pretty ridiculous too. Of course he's going to be in the bottom half of the starters after CP3, Dwest, and Ariza. Did you really expect him to be higher??? It's such a bs stat that really just says if your team is winning or not. Did you know CJ Miles has a better +/- than Chris Paul and Deron Williams?!?! Also, Thornton's 2nd to last on the team with -26 and last year he posted a -75. Like I said, Thornton has the WOW factor that makes you get out of your seat but he might need some time to learn this system. And saying Monty isn't developing the talent is ignorant too. Jason Smith and Pondexter are both young nobodies who are contributing, so don't play that card. I'd love for Thornton to get Willie Green's minutes with the 2nd team (I think his defense is way overrated). The point is, you don't have to knock Belinelli and everyone who doesn't agree with you. You like Thornton. We get it.

BeesGivingEffort
BeesGivingEffort

BTW, Eric Gordon, not Ben Gordon. Sorry. I didn't think anyone with any sort of intelligence considered Ben Gordon a top legitimate SG. But if you want to brag about Ben Gordon going 8-13 and scoring 19 pts, I guess that's cool too.

BeesGivingEffort
BeesGivingEffort

Yeah, how quickly we forget every single mother f***ing accolade heaped on Marcus Thornton last year. You people are just as blinded as me with your pro-Belinelli BS. Belinelli is perpetually in the bottom half of our starting lineup in +/-, ESPECIALLY lately. If he was as great a damn defender as you tout him to be, he'd be sitting on the opposing team's best player. Sorry, if you don't even go to the damn games, then don't spout this Belinelli nonsense. I and 2 others spend money every night to be in that arena and I'd like to see Monty Williams put his pride the f*** aside and at least give a shot to our 3rd most talented basketball player! His handling of Marcus is a damn shame. As a ton of people say about Avery Johnson/Terrence Williams, "You don't get paid to just coach the good ones. You get paid to coach the bad ones too." A REAL COACH would have found a way to make Marcus work. Thornton is mother f***ing D-League. Amazing. Freaking Amazing. You people really piss me off sometimes. It's too bad 2 rookies couldn't at least keep it interesting into the month of March regarding the playoff race without CP3 for a huge chunk of the season. Oh, mother f***ing wait a minute. THEY DID.

yeah yeah
yeah yeah

Yeah Bees, I have to call you out on your bias on this. Belinelli definitely spent MOST of his 27 minutes matched against Rip Hamilton who scored 13 pts on 6-14 shooting (and a little fact checking shows Ben Gordon scored 19 pts, not 27). Furthermore, doesn't Ariza guard everyone's best wing player? I looked at some highlights to make sure I was right and yep, that's Ariza guarding Brandon Roy and Manu Ginobili. I think Beli is much better than the mo pete, devin brown, and rasual butler mess we've dealt with for the past couple of years. He's hitting 41% from 3 (ranked 38th) and 53% adj. fg % (ranked 39th) so he's doing his job far better than anyone hoped. We're not hating Thornton...we just see the difference between playing good defense and not playing good defense. Thornton definitely has the wow factor but he's not the right fit with a slow down, halfcourt, defensive minded starting unit. Thornton plays his best running and getting quick shots, which isn't how this team is structured. It might take him a year or two to learn how to play within that system (Richard Jefferson is a prime example). Until that happens, having Thornton on the floor confused on what he's supposed to do isn't going to help us.

James Online
James Online

Mr Bees: Your ridiculous Thornton bias distorts your vision. He was not matched up against those players man to man. Watch the games. Thornton is what he is: D league.

ur_gmas_daughter
ur_gmas_daughter

It seems like to me that the deeper we go into the season the more I am seeing we HAVE to have a back-up big. We've tried DJ, Pops got a shot, Gray has played, Anderson got minutes nothing is working. We get flashes of some good play but that's about it. We just need a big in the worst way. I hope by seeing these losses that it opens someone's eyes in FO to make a trade soon. Its ALL the back-up bigs fault for the loses it just a very weak point of our team

paul
paul

Are you at all willing to look up and post numbers? If so, please post the numbers where Gray shows his minutes and where he is not playing well. This position you are taking reminds me of lots of fan traits...short on memory being the biggest. As another request, and a rather difficult one for fans only willing to post on emotions, is to try and give us a center with Gray's abilities and for what cost. He is paid only 1.3 this year. To post demands for trades without offering the options is meaningless fan ranting.

42
42

I made a good case, I think, for getting some backup 4's, at least one of which is aggressive. hewhorocks called my wish (rightly) a hockey enforcer. Think Shockey. Think Chandler. Think the good part of Posey. Tyson would slip in to the boxing pose with little to no provocation . . . pragmatic or not, it was thrilling.

BeesGivingEffort
BeesGivingEffort

Oh, one more thing. What the heck is with the And 1 Mixtape turnovers by CP3 lately? Chris has perpetually been the type of player to take substance over style.

jtshoopsblog
jtshoopsblog

The Hornets certainly did need the loss to the OKC. That team is basically on life support. Even with all the news that the Hive may one leaving, it still has not change the attendance numbers on their home court. shows u what fans really think about their team.

42
42

Try that again, please, but this time use all the words you intend. We needed the loss because we are on life support at 14-8 after the loss? Post some contact info and I'm sure a few folks would be willing to help you get right. What grade are you in, by the way?

bgalella
bgalella

For the second time this season both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook scored over 25 against the Hornets. Pretty tough to beat a team when two players are dropping over 50 points on you.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

We lost this game because Pops was on the game banner!!!!

ollie
ollie

dont let rm see this but when I saw pops on the banner I thought it might be nice to have a player that is active instead lol

Diane
Diane

Chris Paul is one of the best. His talent is unbelievable. He seems like he can't miss a shot. I've said this for 5 years now - he plays when he wants too. He could take over games - no problem - why doesn't he? That's why I'm not a fan of his. David West is my favorite - fluffy, grumpy- Hornet. This year I've seen Russell just take over games. If The Thunder gets 4-6 points behind he just plows down to the basket. He is almost impossible to stop. (even though I'm sure other teams will figure out a way.) I think they still have at least one more game together - should be exciting.

NolaHog
NolaHog

Paul is definitely not playing like himself. He never looks to shoot anymore. This was typified by the crazy behind the back pass he threw at Okafor's knees on a fast break. The old paul would have drew the defender's contact and tried to get up a shot for a 3 pt play. Now, he makes a wild pass that results in a turnover. He should have especially been looking to shoot or get fouled after the 4th or 5th free throw miss in the 4th quarter. A team leader says to themself, "Hey, we're tensing up here. I need to make a play to stop this slide." I agree with Monty that Ariza is a superb defender, but there are times when offense is needed more than defense, and thornton needs to be worked into the game more. After Paul and West, he's the best guy on the team at creating his own shot. Also, if last night's attendance was less than 15,000, then there's no way we're going to meet the attendance requirement.

42
42

Show me your calculations, because my calculations say it's still very possible. Or are you just guessing? And I'm sure you were at the Arena last night and heard how load it was. People are fired up. The last time Paul took it himself and drew the contact rather than dishing it, it was an offensive foul against him (Fisher drew), we didn't put the game out of reach, and the Lakers won. I think Chris remembers that.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

I can't believe people still want CP3 to shoot when he is getting all the defenses attention and he is finding WIDE OPEN shooters. The Hornets missed six straight free throws and Ariza and Belly both missed open shots. I guess Paul can just chuck it, but I can't emphasize how short sighted that is. If our guys make the shots and free throws they are supposed to make, then we all praise him, but THEY miss and it s Paul's fault. Right. This team will give the Hornets problems plain and simply because they are so alike, but OKC has too much firepower to be held scoreless for long stretches. Both teams are perimeter oriented on offense and solid, but soft in the paint on D. Difference is that OKC gets to the line (and makes them!) That is why both games were close, but both went OKC's way.

f.g. di bene
f.g. di bene

here we go again, belinelli was the culprit! i've seen belinelli step up in the fourt quarter, making 3 shots to keep hornets alive (2 3pt shots, and one tough bank shot) when everybody else just disappeared, i've seen a BIG foul on him on 3pt shot at 10 seconds to the end. maybe some of the all star players have to step up a little bit at the end of the games.

BeesGivingEffort
BeesGivingEffort

Yep. 5-14 (2-7 from three) and the lowest +/- on the team is really getting it done. Give me a break.

f.g. di bene
f.g. di bene

yeah... it's better if he hides himself under a bench or somewhere in the crowd like the all stars in the team.

Skeletor
Skeletor

Guys, I will admit right now that I'm a Thunderfan who stumbled onto this website after the game, and I have to say I am surprised by two things. 1) The ref calls were very inconsistent both ways. Why do fans always act like their team is the only team with bad calls, unlucky rolls, etc. The refs were just letting them play tonight. To me, they let both teams get away with too much. I thought Westbrook and Paul were about to deck each other in the 2d quarter. 2) You're yelling at OKC for flopping when you have the prince of flop as your PG (the king is Derek Fisher). Finally, it backfired against Paul when he flopped and was called for the foul on Collison, but this is one part of Paul's game that really annoys me. Like most people in OKC, I love Chris Paul, but he needs to just play some ball and quit the acting and whining. And I guess everyone is so much on the Westbrook bandwagon in the media right now, no one is mentioning (not just this site) how clutch Durant was down the stretch. I know Westbrook had the highlight reel play, but Durant's timely shooting and passing in the 4th was just as much a reason for the Thunder victory.

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

I don't "always" react like that. In fact, this is the second game all year I've had a complaint with how the officiating was handled.

Mike Bee
Mike Bee

Hi

Mike Bee
Mike Bee

Plain and simple for whatever reason Monty doesn't trust his bench. I've watched EVERY Hornets game so far...whether it was live or on TV. Monty pulls his bench players out if they make a foul or they are out of position on defense. I agree with that approach, but, do it with your starters, too. David West can score when he wants. He basically got shut out in the 2nd half. How many points did the person he was defending score? Every loss after you look at the box score you'll see that Monty trusts his starters for too long. His bench players have never given up more than an 8 point lead. Monty, lost this matchup because he trusted his starters for too long. If anyone looks at the box scores...the bench, ecspecially, Jason Smith...is always in the plus. He had the biggest plus-minus in almost every loss by the Hornets. If you see every game vs. the Spurs he's always in the plus. David West can score but as soon as he gets in foul trouble...he shuts it down. I'd rather have someone trying hard than someone who is going to be passive. Omeka...is a whole another topic...

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

I think the biggest take away from this game besides the fact the russel is coming up bigggg time is that BELLY SHOULD NOT BE SHOOTING the ball when the game is in the last minute. Yes he hit the open corner 3 but thats the easiest shot in bball. Twice this season we have run a play for belly to get a three and he has missed. He is no peja. do something else monty

42
42

Doesn't the Bayless fact say a good deal about fit, and how players appear when they are on a bad team instead of a good one?

QueenBee
QueenBee

Yeah, Belinelli is really inconsistent. I know they say shooters are 'streaky' but he's too doggone streaky. I can't even count the nice shots he's been set up for this season only to miss them.

sk
sk

peja had still value to give to this team. Dells/Monty have made a messup with this deal.. And Bayless is doing well at the Raptors.

QueenBee
QueenBee

So. Mr. Ray Woolridge attended tonight's game? Hmmm. AMONG THE CROWD: Former minority owner Ray Wooldridge attended Friday’s game. Gary Chouest, whose 35-percent minority stake was purchased by the NBA on Monday, attended his first game since Monday’s announcement.

42
42

I was happy overall with the game. The Thunder are a quality team and we were with them. We made tons of errors, as several folks noted, though none as well as NOEngineer, which is to be expected due to the penchant for detail his claimed professions typically has. Despite these miscues, we were in it. Paraphrasing Mr. McNamara: it's ugly when you pull the face boards back to find termite damage, but at least you know what to fix. We weren't getting killed in the paint. We weren't just feeding D West just to prove he can break down a triple team once a game sometimes. There is a good deal to be encouraged about here. Don't forget about Jack showing that he has an upside.

QueenBee
QueenBee

Yeah NOEngineer detailed well.

Okijeff
Okijeff

I do have to say I like both Bob and Gil. They know the game, do their research on opposing players, call the game fairly for both sides, have great chemistry and are entertaining. Do I dare say we have the best tv crew? Anybody else have any favorites?

QueenBee
QueenBee

So did you guys like the new unis?

42
42

Me and the lady both liked them. She's been pinching me during the games saying she wants one.