Rockets Pull Away From Hornets in Second Half

Once again, turnovers are the problem as the Hornets fall to the Rockets 97-90

Shooting 46% from the field and 47% from three is a significant upgrade for a team that has struggled in both areas this preseason. But those numbers don’t tell the whole story, as the Hornets took 13 less shots than the Rockets did tonight due to their other Achilles heel; turnovers. 26 total team turnovers that robbed the Hornets of opportunities to take advantage of a defense that was young and inexperienced. The Rockets shot a lower percentage from the field, from the line, and from deep, but when you get that many more opportunities, you can afford to miss and still win.

To say that Greivis Vasquez is over his head is a massive understatement. He is perfectly suited to provide energy and a change of pace 12-15 minutes a night off the bench like he did with the Grizzlies, but asking him to run an offense is unfair to both him and his teammates. Tonight he registered 8 turnovers. I personally counted nine, as a lob intended for Anthony Davis that sailed out of bounds did not count as a TO for some reason, but I digress. It wasn’t just the turnovers that were discouraging, it was the inability on multiple occasions for Vasquez to get the Hornets offense into a set that was equally maddening. When a player is forced to throw up a bad shot at the end of the shot clock because the PG dribbled for 18 seconds and got nowhere, I see that as a turnover as well.

There was some good in this game, and I will address that in the notes below, but the inability to hold onto the ball and run sets on the offensive end is by far the biggest problem this team faces moving forward. By advanced metrics, the Hornets defense was average overall last year, but if you really dig deep into the data, you see that the high turnover rate led to easy baskets, and if you were to eliminate a reasonable amount of those mistakes, the Hornets defense would have been elite. When the Hornets are able to set up under Monty Williams, they are an elite defense. When turnovers allow teams to catch the Hornets out of position, they become average. From what this preseason has showed us so far, we are looking at the prospects of a dismal offense, which will lead to an underachieving defense.

The Good

– Darius Miller is an NBA player and deserves major minutes on this team right away. There is 30 – 45 minutes available in Monty’s rotation and the battle is between Miller, Aminu, Henry, Mason, and Lance Thomas to get those minutes and in this writer’s opinion it is painfully clear that Darius Miller gives the Hornets the best chance to win when you evaluate all the guys in that group. And you know what? Lance Thomas is second. I don’t care where Aminu and Henry were drafted, I don’t care about their age. They have had plenty of opportunities and have not taken advantage of them. Miller has taken every opportunity Monty has given him and exceeded expectations. In my opinion, the starting SF job should be his to lose.

– We all loved Peja in 2008. By 2010-11, we had him in every trade proposal due to his salary and his bad back, but in 2008 we all worshipped the guy and rightfully so. He was a floor spacer who could get hot and take over quarters, and even halves, single-handedly. And you know what? Ryan Anderson is better than 2008 Peja. He is as good of a shooter, a much better rebounder, a better and more versatile defender, he takes charges, and he is always active. He is the best perimeter scorer this team has had since Jamal Mashburn or Glen Rice. He is that good, and he proved it tonight. 23 points on 15 shots, 5 of 7 from deep, and 8 boards in just 26 minutes. But when the Hornets got close and had a chance to win in the final three minutes……. I guess I will save this for the bad.

– Brian Roberts is not a point guard, let’s get that straight. He is a scorer who is short. He is a mid range version of Jannero Pargo. But at least he moves north and south with the ball in his hands, not east and west like Vasquez. When he is in the game, the Hornets get shots that look like shots you would expect to see in an NBA game. He made a horrible play on a fast break, and he had a better first half than second, but overall I felt more confident when he was in the game than Vasquez.

– Anthony Davis had several rim runs that should have resulted in easy lob dunks, but unfortunately, he doesn’t have a real point guard who can get him the ball on those plays. What we did see, however, was a good game from the rookie as he finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals. The six turnovers, however, were a little surprising, and he faded in the second half after dominating the glass in the first.

The Ugly

– I am just skipping the bad because I covered most of it with Vasquez. The ugly to me had to do with the rotations, and I have my fingers crossed that Monty is just experimenting in the preseason, because I will lose my mind if this continues in the regular season.

The most beautiful stretch of basketball, by far, came in the second quarter as Miller, Anderson, and Davis made up the Hornets front court. Starting at the 9 minute mark and going until the Rockets called a timeout at 6:39, the Hornets had six offensive possessions in which they ran double high post action with Davis and Anderson. On one play, Roberts turned the ball over. Here are the other 5 possessions:

Ryan Anderson three (made)

Anthony Davis jumper (made)

Anthony Davis dunk off a beautiful pass by Miller (made)

Ryan Anderson three (made)

Ryan Anderson three (made)

Six possessions, 13 points. 2.16 points per possession. Beyond elite. Rockets call a timeout and what does Monty do? Brings in Robin Lopez. Next 5 possessions, 2 missed shots and 3 turnovers.

Fast forward to the 4th quarter. Ryan Anderson scores 12 points in a 5 minute and 10 second span to bring the Hornets to within 7. How does Monty respond? By pulling Anderson for Lopez of course!

Look, it is just preseason, so I am going to hope that Monty is just testing something out or saving Anderson, or trying not to show too much- whatever. But it is clear that this team thrives when Miller, Anderson, and Davis are up front. Lopez is a great change of pace big body- better than I expected, I admit. But Anderson is an elite NBA player, and he needs the minutes that elite players get.


22 responses to “Rockets Pull Away From Hornets in Second Half”

  1. Michael,

    This was a great article. Couldn’t agree more. Especially love what you said about Anderson, Lopez, and the PG position. Thanks for telling it the way it is about Vasqez, who I love off the bench. [This is why I wanted to draft Marshall over Rivers!]

  2. Trade Henrey and Vasquez/Warrick for Eric Bledsoe? Yeah I think that sounds good lol

    I was very impressed with the Miller/Anderson/Davis front court too! I really think Aminu will start out the year at the 3 and Miller will eventually take his place. How did he fall to us in the 2nd round? SO glad he did though lol

  3. Everytime I saw Vasquez turn the ball over, a small piece of my soul died. Dude was that bad. Off the bench, I’d love to have him on the team. No doubt. But imagine if that was D. Will, diva cp3 etc….., that would’ve been fugly. Miller will get baptized by fire this season guarding the elite wings in the league. But he’ll dish out some nice plays. Some nights I’ll be glad Lopez would be on the floor, others I’ll wish he had his warmups on. I’m hoping for the playoffs, but I’ll settle for competitive. That and Eric Gordon being healthy

  4. Can’t agrue too much with this. Other than refering to Anderson as an “elite” player. He’s good, but far far far from elite. Elite shooter yes and finally showed last night.

  5. Your reading of the game is not in line with the statistics. If you look at the +/- stats, Greivis has a +2 stat. So clearly when he was on the floor the team did not do worse than when he wasn’t. Anyone will tell you that this is a new team and players need to gel and understand each other’s moves. How about we stop piling up pressure on single players and let them do their work? And for those who keep wondering about GV’s abilities, you have a good data sample to look at, the games he started last year. He went against top guards and he did very well.
    As ESPN reports: “A gritty guard who plays with energy and passion, Vasquez proved last season that he is fully capable of handling starting-point guard duties when he filled in for injured guard Jarrett Jack. In 26 starts, Vasquez averaged an impressive 12.0 points, 7.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.8 3-pointers in 32.8 minutes per game.”

  6. I think Greivis dribbles the ball waaaaaay too much. He just runs around the court dribbling and wasting energy. He’s definitely not starting point guard material on this team. Anderson’s J is pure butta! It looks so pretty leaving his hands, it looks effortless. I love seeing Davis, Miller & Anderson on the court, they just gel so well and I cannot wait until Gordon gets thrown into that mix. We really lucked out landing Miller in the second round thanks to Davis’ constant chimming to Demps about how good this kid really was. I really hope Lopez comes along and becomes more of a contributor, I like his toughness. He needs to learn how to play with Davis and use his big frame more efficiently. The season could not start soon enough! I cannot wait to see what our team can do once were healthy and running on all cylinders.

  7. Look folks, it’s preseason and Monty is still feeling his way through this new roster. I highly doubt these rotations will continue into the regular season. Hopefully Friday against the Heat, we will see a more realistic rotation, being it’s the last preseason game and Monty needs to solidify his rotation before Wednesday against the Spurs. Then again, Monty may minimize use of his keys players so not to risk injury. Missing Gordon, Rivers, and Smith has already put us in a hole because we still haven’t seen our true starting 5 on the floor together, and that affects the rotation as well. Losing Anderson, Davis, or Miller would really start the season off sour. So let just all sit back and watch Monty work and hopefully by Wednesday, the best rotation will be utilized to whip some SA arse!!!!!!!!

    • Even with the “Best rotation” on our roster being put out on the floor on WED, we would still need a starting PG to run this team offensively successfully! Opposing teams will attack Vas to disrupt the Hornets rhythm on offense & defense.

      • You know what lineup REALLY intrigues me when we get healthy:

        Eric Gordon
        Darius Miller
        Ryan Anderson
        Jason Smith
        Anthony Davis

        Gordon creates, Anderson and Miller can stroke it, Jason Smith can pop and Davis can rim run. Davis or Smith can guard most 3’s on defense and that team will be scrappy as hell on the boards. ANd best of all, none of those guys try to do too much, therefore low turnover rate.

        Would LOVE to see those five out there for 4-6 minutes per half

      • Sounds like a big fun lineup, but can Darius Miller stay with quick wings? Seems like that lineup would be vulnerable on D if Davis always has to come help Miller guard quicker guys like, say, James Harden or Wes Matthews. Especially in the beginning when Davis is still adjusting to the NBA.

  8. Agree 100% with the article!

    -moving east&west
    -over dribble coming off the pick&roll
    -defense trapping/turning him wide on the pick&roll #SlowFeet
    -Not passing the ball to his players in rhythm when they come off of screens
    -lacks body balance when handling the ball which throws off he timing; poor footwork
    -lacks basketball IQ on running the pick&roll making defenders committ to him opening the lane for the roll or the back door cutters
    -has trouble running the offensive sets and doesnt get his guys in the proper spacing on offense.
    -Poor defender

    *We need a “Starting PG” Bad!*

  9. Let me remind you guys how much Vasquez is making this year. Two millions.
    So let’s look at this as an investment with low risk unless you think he can not cut down the turnovers.

  10. Bigbreed: that is why GV won the cousy award for the best college pg in the country. because he does all the things you mention in your comment ??? How about stopping being a judge and start being a fan (possibly a supportive fan) and let coaches, GM, and players do their work in peace

    • Whoa, fan2012. I loved Vasquez at Maryland and have said so in previous posts here. But let’s be realistic. First of all, Vasquez won the award as a senior college combo guard (in a weak, to me, year). Second, this is about his transition to full-time PG in the NBA. College is irrelevant!

      People are making objective statements about Vasquez’s play at PG in the preseason. There is nothing wrong with that. If you expect everyone here to be a Hornet Homer, you are mistaken.

      Just because I like Vasquez in college doesn’t mean I have to close my eyes to his PG in the NBA faults so far this year.

  11. come on guy vasquez dis 13 point and 11 assists i mean the guy is not great but he is young and i can feel his passion for the game

  12. fan2912, vasquez must be your son, boyfriend, agent or fiance. Steve Wonder saw him play and he wasn’t impressed. jmolero I understand why you think he can play he your fellow countryman.When you stripped it down and get rid of all the prejudices the bottom lines is he just can play and has no business in this league.There is a point guard that will get cut that has more ability.

    • i know im biased with gv, but tell he can’t play is too much, he found the way to play 2 good seasons so far, maybe he isn’t a starting PG, but he is definitely a NBA player. (Im sure that the grizzlies miss him a lot from the bench lasts playoff).

      P.S.: Sorry for my crappy english, 😉

  13. Great to see you guys are liking Davis and are seeing Millers value. I can tell you now, Miller is a hell of an athlete and an even keel guy. Especially once he is comfortable in his role on an NBA team. He will make you guys proud. No idea what’s up with AD23, but I can tell you he don’t TO 6 times in one game, so you guys don’t have to worry about that too much going forward. Anthony has great hands so that stat really surprised me.
    I’m not an NBA fan, but do keep up with my cats and like to watch how they fair, along with other college players.
    Any problem you have with Henry, isn’t going to be with talent, it’s going to be with either personality or attitude. TFWIW. And I’ve said this before to, don’t hope to look for answers with Rivers when his time comes, there is a reason that a Coach K team lost to Lehigh.
    Sounds, from a distance that things are looking up overall for the Hornets, good luck. #BBN

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