Hornets’ Changes Do Not Show, but They Claim Una Victoria

The new look New Orleans Hornets look a little too familiar, despite the heavy roster turnover, and look unimpressive in their defeat of the Magic in Mexico City.

First and foremost, let’s remind ourselves that this team is working on climbing out of the cellar, and they have years to do this while the team puts deeper roots down in New Orleans.

Second, they’ve managed to amass some talent that could make great things possible in the coming years.

Third, there’s just no delaying the incontrovertible truth that Eric Gordon sat yet again, and the offensive output of this team remained abysmal. The outcome of the game does not matter. The Hornets’ run at the end en route to an 85-80 victory is in no way representative of typical play by either team on either side of the ball. The Hornets’ Gordonless core was devastated by the Magic’s newly-Howardless core, and that’s the truth of it.

You can write the story, as it’s the most typical one from last season. The Hornets came out slow on offense, slowed the bleeding with some defensive flashes, but ultimately turnovers were their undoing.

Let’s not pretend there was a gameplan and look at the starters.

Vasquez hit the bench with cuatro fouls at a rapid pace, highlighting his defensive weaknesses and his wrong-headed tactics on offense, as he bookended those fouls with three turnovers and two assists. The Hornets were scoreless in his first run, and an assist was not recorded until Rivers helped Henry score, and boy did he need it. That also marked the last of Rivers’ charity work, though he was not charged with running point.

Rivers met expectations. He scored 10 points on 6 shots, eeked out an assist, and would have done much better if thought better of some boneheaded long shots.

Aminu got yanked early to help with some offense. Anderson came in, and Davis shifted to small forward. The Hornets did eventually score, but it was awkward. I would call this a situational set, suppress a groanish giggle, then run away. His nearly 19 minutes were unremarkable, which may be all we need in the final analysis. A nice defensive possession of his was derailed by a smart foul by Orlando, which I mention only to make a remark, flying in the face of my characterization of his play as unremarkable.

Davis did well. He had some nice defense, got nailed on three fouls, and managed to score 8 points on 9 shots. He got the third-most minutes and ended with the fifth-most points, second among starters (which says a great deal about starting). I say that this is fine for the young’un. Good show.

Lopez was as expected. His defense was ok, but his offense was worse than Okafor and Ariza on their bad days. No field goals in over 20 minutes. Good thing he made it to the line.

Speaking of the line, the team shot 21 of 34 from the line, which is ridiculous.

Again, ponder how the 27 points of the starters really figures into the story of the game.

Of note is that Thomas did play well in garbage minutes, which, along with Roberts’ 17 points on 11 shots and otherwise nice stat line, led to the Hornets’ faux win.

Also, Warrick did not play. He’s looking like a practice body, as theh Phoenix writers told us, and a dead weight on the cap whose removal, along with Lewis’ (or Okafor’s and Ariza’s), will propel the team forward 89 games from now.

It is left to the readers to judge the judgments and discuss the good games of Mason and Smith.

Excellence will be rewarded with tickets to Tuesday’s game.

40 responses to “Hornets’ Changes Do Not Show, but They Claim Una Victoria”

  1. Lopez played 22 minutes and was -22. The offense was horrible when he was in, and when they finally brought Anderson in, it was for Aminu, not Lopez. What resulted was Davis being pushed out to the corner on offense and he had to guard the 3 on offense.

    Just because Lopez is a legit 7 feet doesnt mean he needs to start. It is obvious that he is the 4th best big on this team (if that- Lance looked pretty good). Davis and Anderson should each get 32-35 mins. Smith 20-25, and Lopez gets whatever is left over.

    • Lopez is just awful, but I was watching the NBA TV training camp preview with the Hornets and it seems like Monty likes Lopez a lot.

      • I fear that Monty might be stuck in the 90’s- an era where Lopez would be useful. The fact is that he makes too little of an impact defensively to make up for how badly he bogs down our offense.

        He needs to be on the low block because he is not a threat outside of three feet and that pushes Davis out to the perimeter and negates the lob play. When he, Anderson, and Davis were all in together, AD was stuck in the corner.

        Other great coaches learned last year that the old NBA is dead. The Heat finally made Bosh their starting center, the Celtics did the same with Garnett, the Thunder pulled Perkins in favor of Collison, etc.

        Hopefully, Monty will learn this too- or perhaps he already knows this- and he is just playing possum for Pop and the Spurs

      • I think condemming any player, especially a new player, based on one preseason game is foolish.

      • Try the last two years and one game. I have been on record since day one in saying that this was a bad move by the Hornets. He just doesn’t fit and is only needed in the two games that the Hornets play the Philadelphia 76ers, if that.

        He had one good season three years ago and offers nothing in this new day and age of the NBA. If you don’t have a quality center, you are better off playing small ball. We saw this numerous times last year. Nothing against the guy personally, but the big stiff center with no offensive skills had some value in the 90’s; it has ZERO value now.

      • I dont have a side on this argument just yet in regards to lopez. i’d like to see how he plays for a while with this team before i rush to a conclusion. This is a new system, new team and new coach to him. if he turns out to be a glorified Arron Gray while the other three bigs(im a huge supporter of AD and Smitty.. and cant wait to see anderson start draining threes) play most of the minutes, then im fine with that. i remember when the plodding Gray shut DWIGHT HOWARD down a couple years ago. there is atleast SOME value there…

        I personally think our best lineup will be…

        however i fear SMitty will come off the bench in favor of anderson and his hefty contract…

      • team option with lopez right? he doesn’t have to stay long term correct?

        if so I am sighing a huge sigh of relief…he is painful to watch.

  2. How could you miss our *real* starting C, the +17 Solomon Alabi?

    Anyway, for those of us who don’t have NBA TV, what happened in th 2nd half, and specifically the 4th Q?

    • Pretty simple. The Magic went away from what was working and shooting from the perimeter. It flipped the momentum and Hornets were able to rely on our best scorer currently able to play in Roberts.

      • The Magic went away from what was working and shooting from the perimeter.

        That “and” confuses the heck out of me. Did they move *from* perimeter shooting in the 2H or is that what they started doing in the 2H?

    • Pretty simple. The Magic went away from what was working and started shooting from the perimeter. It flipped the momentum and Hornets were able to rely on our best scorer currently able to play in Roberts.

  3. I don’t like where Rivers was placed throughout the game. I feel like shoving him into the corner gives him no spacing to create. All his points came in isolation drives from the center, where he was able to beat his man and draw fouls.

    Also Robin Lopez is hilarious. Like, the guy’s hook shot may be the most awkward thing I have ever seen.

    The 2nd quarter was pretty similar to the 1st. The Hornet’s starters actually managed to look worse than the Magic, and Glen Davis kept drawing fouls (?!). The 4th was just reserve players on reserve players.

  4. The offense was terrible. Even though it was a lot if simple sets and just seeing what the players can do, it was still difficult to watch. I didn’t know Robin Lopez was so horrible. Austin Rivers takes some very questionable shots and Vasquez tries to make the big play every time and it is usually never there. Point Guard is showing to be the main concern of this team. And Eric Gordon is a poor excuse of a “leader” or professional.

  5. 1st game of the preseason… and without our best player. Hard to tell what kind of difference having Gordon there would have made for Lopez.

    It’s too early to judge anything really.

    There’s been 4 days of training camp. Start judging when the regular season kicks in.

    • Who are you – EG’s agent. Call that little douche what he really is – fraud and cancer to this team. Quit making excuses for the Lil Punk. $58 million and he refuses to be part of the team.

      • Completely agree.

        Professionals fight through the pain, but EG collapses at the least little ouchy.

  6. @nolakid21 whoa where did the attack on Eric come from.

    I think the only questionable shots Rivers took, where the deep threes and one of them was with 2 seconds left on the shot clock.

    With only a week into training camp I must say I think our defensive is gonna be beyond solid. I think we just looked really young out there. Made some really stupid plays.

    • Who are you – EG’s agent. Call that little douche what he really is – fraud and cancer to this team. Quit making excuses for the Lil Punk. $58 million and he refuses to be part of the team.

      • Your going to call him a cancer, because he wanted to go play for a team that showed the man a little love. Gordon is waaaaay different than players like Arenas, Ricky Davis, Demarcus Cousins, Blatche, etc.

        People need to get over the Gordon incident. THE NBA IS A BUSINESS. He is here now, and he is going to play here. He has stated numerous times that all he wants to do is play basketball and that he is ready to lead this team.

        I think we saw just how badly we need Gordon during the first half yesterday. We had no one to run our offense through and it showed. Anderson wasn’t hitting anything and outside of him no one could get a look.

        Whether you like it or not we need Gordon. End of story.

  7. Thoughts on the Rooks:
    Davis’ jumper seemed like it was in rhythm and in good form but was not even close to going in (nor were his free throws). Also concerning, there was no lob offense and Davis didn’t attack off the dribble. That being said, we love him for his intangibles which he brought today and his elite athleticism was on display. Those blocks were nasty!

    I thought Austin was fine, one of the best moments of the night was a shifty little blow-by he had (I think in the 3rd). I would like to see how he would do with Roberts running point, no offense Greivus.

    I thought Roberts belonged out there and also loved Miller when he came in and nailed a corner three even though he was cold. Exactly what we need from him.

    All-in-all I am excited about the rooks, I want to see more Davis in the post but hopefully that will come. Until we see Austin with Gordon we won’t know exactly who Rivers is but nothing today made me think he won’t work here. Loved Darius and Roberts even though they got scrub time.

    • Davis called for the alley oop like 5 or 6 times, the guards just needs to look for it. Him, Aminu, and Jason Smith should combine for a lot of alley oops

  8. I was disappointed with Lopez which I’m sure everyone was. I still have faith though. Anderson could have played better he looked a little rusty. I’m not gonna lie I liked Mason today, he impresse me. Also felt like the rookies played decent for their first game. They’ll only get better. Brian Roberts NEEDS to make the roster, he had a great game. I can’t wait for regular season!

  9. Questions for the experts

    – Do you see any improvements in Vasquez game?

    – Do you think that Anderson off the bench is real?

    – If you had to cut a player today, who? (You can’t pick Gordon 🙂 )

    • Not an expert but,
      no, maybe, and I dunno probably one of the guards not named mason, roberts, gordon, vasquez or rivers.

  10. Did you see that off-the-glass runner Austin pulled out!!!! Exactly why he went 10th, looking like a vet @ the age of 19.

  11. It was the first preseason game for a team with eleven new faces and without their best player. A bad game was to be expected.
    There is no reason to worry about how many turnovers some guy had or how badly the offense struggled. The reason why you play preseason games is to address the problems you have in a real game-like match, and try to fix those problems before the regular season begins. Once the regular season begins and the team or player keeps having the same problems, then it is a cause for concern.

    • Eli, complaining is fun. Don’t take it so seriously. Whats next you will tell us not to worry about the economy, we just got over a recession and blah blah blah. If something sucks, I’m going to worry about it until it doesn’t suck. Except for you, you suck and I don’t worry about you. But thats an exception.

  12. The most disappointing thing I took away from this game was that our offense didn’t flow at all with Vasquez running the point. After listening in on his interview with the NBA TV crew it seemed as though he was going to be a little more settled with his playmaking in the preseason – today he managed to be both slow… and out of control.

    This is only preseason and yes it’s pretty meaningless – but I would have loved some more reps at the point for Rivers in this one, he seems to have an above average handle and his first step looks lethal. He’s going to be a ‘take the good with the bad’ kind of player, and I think his penetration and ability to get to the line will warrant him taking a couple of heat-check’s throughout the game, he’s an attacking point guard and there’s definitely a place on this squad for a guy like Rivers.

  13. Lopez showed what he has been showing during the past 2 years. The guy doesnt rebound or block well for his size, cant score and hurts the overall offense flow. He will end up being a back up center with a high price tag. No wonder why no team other than the Hornets wanted Lopez during the offseason.

    • Isn’t there a team option for lopez after this year? So, we might not have to put up with him that long. I thought the whole reason we got him was one reason…to take away the “pounding” his frame was going to take but I am with Michael, there doesn’t seem to be that many pounding centers in the league…so lopez feels useless for the price we are paying but hopefully I am wrong and he develops into something….

  14. Best player on the court was Brian Roberts. I am from Dayton and saw him outplay some very big college names. He can really, really shoot and seems to always be in control. Sorry, but he is a lot better than Vasquez.

  15. I’d like to see Jason Smith start at center with A.Davis at the 4. Rotate in Anderson and only put in Lopez in Defensive situations and when the other team’s center needs to be corralled. The 3 should be up for grabs between Aminu and X. I expect Miller to get better quickly and should earn some legit playing time by the end of the year. I think Roberts deserves a chance at the starting 1, especially if Vasquez don’t come out stronger than he did against orlando.

  16. I think even the harshest critic or the most optimistic homer wouldn’t draw huge conclusion from a the 1st preseason game. With that said a bunch of the things that have me pessimistic about not only this season, but the future in general was on display in that game. Headlined by Gordon not playing and the core group struggling to points on the board against probably the worse team in the league.

  17. Just like I said about 3 months ago, when everyone was claiming this team has a shot to make the playoffs, “We arent ready”. This team is too young, and way too offensively challenged without Eric Gordon.. and at this point, you have to assume you will play some games without EG. Monty is obviously a defensive coach, but Vazquez is a miserable defender, and Lopez is a black hole sitting in the middle of the paint on both ends. Lopez isnt nearly effective enough defensively to make up for how bad he ruins an offense. Is Anthony Davis a piece to a long term puzzle? Yes. Is he going to average about 12 pts, 10 rebs this year? Yes. Very few big men come into the NBA and immediately dominate. Davis’ numbers will be helped greatly once Gordon returns and we incorporate (hopefully) screen/roll/lob and he can get some easy dunks.

    Point being, this team MUST play small. Anderson and Davis have to start, and Lopez can come in if we are getting abused in the paint. Im not sure Lopez is a better interior defender than Smith, which is an entirely different conversation.

    If Eric Gordon gets hurt *again*, this team will finish in the bottom 5. Which again, wont necessarily be a bad thing.

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