Hornets Come in Second in Second Suns Game
I’ll pick up the recap since this one, I suppose, is too odoriferous for those with a more delicate palate . . .
The Hornets failed to score at a record number race according to Rohan from At The Hive. The box score and recaps all seem to agree that the defense was on and that this was squarely on the offense . . . or it would have been if they could find it.
The Suns, likely a poor to below average team, managed to keep the Hornets from their nice in-the-paint scoring that was a feature in their previous outings (42, 46 compared to 28). The attempts in the paint were there, for sure, but I thought they were forcing it. I found myself asking why we don’t change our tactics, but, in the end, the imp-in-game-theorist’s-clothing in me prefers imposing your will to a fault to the idea of falling back into a position dictated by the opponent. Plus, with the players available to him, keeping the game mostly mid-range-at-most is likely the smart move from the season-long perspective, peppering in some attempts to get Marco, Trevor, Kaman, and Smith some cleaner looks to maximize what they can do.
Aside: Why is it that Trevor’s 3’s really electrify a crowd? Is it the rarity? Is it a “Rudy” Reuttiger factor? Shouldn’t be . . . His 3 to get us down 10 lit up the crowd like the levee in Gramercy on Christmas Eve. It actually sounded like when he hit the same shot agianst the Heat last year. Amazing, really. Too bad Papa Noel didn’t have more for us, but I’ll take it.
Despite the constant tweaks in trying to play big by Coach Williams, some of which were dictated, like Aminu’s minutes due to Ariza’s foul issue, nothing seemed to work, except Emeka. His box score line does not impress at first glance, but adjusting for minutes played, his +/- is the only one that really sticks out as a plus (remember, a +/- that comes out to the score differential when scaled to 48 minutes is `expected’), and, to me, it was there for the eye to see. Carl really looked like he had a good game offensively, but he was a little off on defense, or was caught looking bad because help didn’t arrive, etc.
We were down 9 with 4 minutes left and made some efforts, but it just wasn’t in the cards.
We have two more games against the Suns, on February 1st and April 1st, but who knows what these teams will look like then.
Perhaps more disturbingly than the loss to the less-than-stellar Suns is that our first second-game was as disaster. Last year we were a new team, just as this year, and we ended up going on a nice streak a couple of times. The first one was matched by a pretty bad losing spell. One hypothesis is that we surprised people, but that factor’s postive influence abated once people got around to looking at the tape after we were number one in the NBA . . . yes, really. Supporting this was the early Jason Smith playing like Adonis looks, then later morphing into a Jason Priestly as Brandon Walsh at the Peach Pit: surprisingly good look and exceedingly high effort, but unable to score.
The later win streak may be been real, but essentially ended with a series of injuries form which the Hornets would not recover. This streak may have been due to chemistry.
The point of all this is as follows: With a more talented and cohesive core surrounded by relative unknowns, the New Orleans Hornets were able to slide into some early victories, but crashed to below 0.500 play as the novelty became more of a cost than a benefit. The plus side is that after three months, the team started to really play well, with injuries being what upset the applecart, obscuring how that `new team’ would have been otherwise stopped.
This team lacks that talented core and the luxury of 82 games to get together. This game is a peek into how bad this team can be . . . always three leaks and two fingers . . . but it likely will be somewhere between historically bad and the 65-win ceiling we’re looking up at . . . and I don’t care how painful it was . . . that game was fun for the fans, at least the ones sitting around me.