All year I've seen poor paint performance from the Hornets, where other teams posting up get easy layups, whereas Hornets on O seem to always have a guy in the perfect spot between them and the basket.
Nuggets slowly bury Hornets
Each quarter, little by little, the Nuggets threw dirt on the Hornets until they were just too far down with too little firepower to come back. Oh, and Henry went right!
The first thing I wrote down in my book was “Hornets not looking like themselves.” That first half, even though they kept it close and were hitting their shots, their energy was not there. They kept failing to get back in transition and there were multiple fast break plays that if more than one Hornet had bothered to run back to defend, they would have kept from being a score. So, in the second half, Monty Williams went with those guys who were giving him energy and Kaman, Ariza and Ayon rode the bench. Ayon, in particular, looked a bit dead out there. That’s been building for weeks, and I’m wondering if he’s hit the dread rookie wall. You have to remember, in Spain, a team plays two, sometimes three games a week. He’s also fighting that foot injury.
So, with Ayon and Kaman struggling, we got long minutes of Lance Thomas, Aminu and Jeff Foote. I’ll reserve judgement on Foote, who worked hard, but isn’t exactly familiar with the Hornets yet. Aminu was his normal self, with solid defense and uncertain offense.
Thomas worked his way to a nice 18 points. He gave it his all everywhere, and got his hands on offensive rebounds and was fouled. He even stuck a few jumpers. That was the good side of the court. Defensively he remained energetic, but Gallinari kept getting past him and Al Harrington kept powering through him. He’s just giving up so much physically to everyone. Still, you have to love his heart.
One other thing I noticed was that the Hornets didn’t play Hornets ball, falling into the up-tempo nature of the game and not grinding it out like they usually do. There was a chain of seven plays in the row in the second quarter where the Hornets shot with 10 seconds or more left on the clock. They usually use all 24 seconds.
Last, I was floored to see that not only did Henry go right tonight on the way to the basket, he did it three times. He even had a crossover from his left to his right to free himself up from Afflalo, who was clearly riding his left hand. The lefty had a rough shooting night from anywhere not at the rim tonight, but he continues to make me a fan. With his 4-4 shooting performance from the line tonight, he also finally elevated his FT% above 50% and is shooting 85% from the stripe in March. If he can make those foul shots he’s been earning, his value skyrockets. What do you guys think of a simple nickname for Henry: ”Lefty.” Or maybe “Righty”, for the irony.
As much as I love the Hornets and want the Timberwolves fail, as a basketball fan I don't want Rubio to have a torn ACL. If he does, I hope he doesn't lose any of his physical capabilities, because he's a joy to watch.
I hate the grading thing. When the sad say comes when I recap a game that matters, you will see no such things from me. Yuck. People go batty about how stats don't account for everything, as if they should, but players are constantly summed up at least in an ordinal or cardinal sense (He's better than X, he's top 1 . . . it seems there's at least 20 of those, by the way). Or with a grade. Total nonsense to me.
Hearing Rubio may have a torn ACL and be done for the season. That would be a huge blow to MINN's chances of making the playoffs and make our MINN pick that much more valuable to keep or trade. As an NBA fan, I feel bad for MINN, but as a Hornets fan, I am a happy camper. Would be nice to jumpstart the MINN misery by beating them tonight!
Feel terrible taking joy in someones injury, but I love my team. Hopefully Love will be sideline a ton more games with his back issue. If so two top 10 pick here we come. I will say Minnesota will be dangerous moving forward.