Not to pile on the Rivers rapture but: He came out aggressive in the 1st quarter, and attacked the basket. When he shoots his floater in the lane without hesitation, it's clear he has confidence. Once Indiana realized he was going to attack the paint every time, they adjusted. Rivers needed to respond by playing inside-out, and taking the 3/long 2 if his man gives it up. Additionally, on the PNR, they began to hedge him much harder. He has to keep his dribble alive, work the angles, and find the pass. But that will take time, and more experience. Still, he was about 90% from finishing each drive, and through all the adjustments, Rivers was still getting to the rim. His outside shot needs work, but once it catches up to his ability to get inside, his scoring will improve dramatically.
« Game On: Hornets @ Pacers
Hornets fall to three point barrage again
The Hornets came out and gave it their all tonight, fighting hard against a tough defense that wasn’t giving an inch. Despite that, the Hornets held an advantage almost all game until the Pacers spread the floor, their shooters got red hot, and the Hornets fell in overtime.
I need to start this by saying I am not blaming Robin Lopez for this loss. He fought hard, he did everything he was asked to do. That said, I don’t ever, ever, ever want to see him as the featured go to guy down the stretch in a close game. He was running the middle pick and roll with Vasquez all night, and did fine (3-17 FG, 15-17 FTs, 21 pts) but when things got tight at the end, he couldn’t hold the ball or got blocked and that generated breaks that led to early offense and open threes as people scrambled to cover. Again, this isn’t Lopez’s fault. He shouldn’t have been asked to be that guy.
Happily, it normally won’t be him – it will be Anthony Davis. You and I both know that is an entirely different ball game.
Outside of that, Lopez did a fine job guarding Hibbert and crashed the boards harder than he had in weeks.
Just once, I’d like to see a game where the Hornets aren’t on the receiving end of a career night from three. That, of course, could be helped by competent rotations. Those did not exist tonight, and NO ONE is absolved from the blame. The guards were the designated double team players for a lot of the night, and while Aminu would shade to help on their guy, from that point on everything broke down. Either one of three things would happen:
- The guard who double teamed would simply not get to the guy in the corner fast enough. This is simply poor footspeed. The lack of athleticism at the edges is hurting.
- The guard who double teamed had a mis-communication with the other guard and ran to the wrong cover. This smacks of poor preparation and poorer execution. These rotations should be second nature.
- The guard who double teamed ran into a screen set by a big to protect the corner shooter and when trapped, the Hornet’s big, who was now free, did not attempt to run out to the guy in the corner. Lopez was particularly awful in this respect.
The result? Open corner threes – which is the most efficient shot in the NBA. Monty needs to start drilling this into their heads, or we’ll see this again and again.
- Rivers is getting more penetration, but he needs to develop the strength to finish more consistently. He also needs that strength because he was being tossed like a salad by the Pacers stronger guards. They just kept throwing Sam Young and Paul George and even the smallish Lance Stephenson at him and he couldn’t handle it.
- The Pacers like to turn the ball over. The Hornets once again failed to take advantage of this, forcing a pathetic 8 turnovers in an overtime game. The lack of speed at the edges strikes again.
- Ryan Anderson hit all five of his threes, but the Pacers did a great job keeping him from breaking free very often.
- In fact, the battle between him and West was downright ugly. West started the game by throwing an elbow into Anderson’s stomach on a post up, and the physicality was on from there. While Anderson’s scoring numbers were superior, West dished five assists and Anderson fouled out in the end and wasn’t available to stretch the floor in the overtime. That hurt.
- Nothing is sadder than an Aminu isolation. He just dribbles it out of bounds or off his foot all the time. And he knows how bad it is. The ball goes off his foot and he just stands there looking like someone shot his puppy. I can’t even get angry at the guy.
- Tyler Hansbrough is the most spastic player I’ve ever seen. When he’s trying to post up, he’s bouncing on the balls of his feet, wiggling his knees, throwing his shoulders back, and generally vibrating. It’s exhausting just to watch. And, of course, it’s generally all for nothing. The Pacers announcers compared him to Jason Smith as an energy guy. Sure, Smith . . . if Smith had no touch, no strength, no timing, and little feel for the game.
- It was shocking the difference in the Pacers defense when Paul George left and Gerald Green stepped on the court. Gerald was beaten off the dribble once by Austin Rivers, once by Aminu, three times by Vasquez. George snuffed all of them regularly.
- Would any of you trade Darren Collison for Ian Mahinmi? McNamara, he’s your boy . . . you doing that trade?
Hornets are now 3-7 and headed to Phoenix.
I think Joel Meyers even made that ridiculous comparison of Smith/Hansbrough; honestly, it's just because they're both white hustling big men. As you said, though, Smith is a hustle guy that can actually can play. Lance Thomas is a more appropriate comparison for Hansbrough. I'm confident Rivers will make the shots he's getting more often in the next few years; his flashes of talent are becoming more common and his youthful mistakes are occurring less and less. Having AD back will take a lot of pressure off of guys like Aminu and Lopez who aren't on the floor to create and take over on offense. Plus, if Anderson keeps shooting like he did tonight, he'll be deadly with an athletic guard that can drive and kick.
Also, Vasquez and (especially) Rivers had periods throughout the game where I just thought "why is he so afraid to shoot??" The Pacers announcers pointed it out several times, especially in the first half, with Vasquez. Rivers seems to just not shoot outside of 14 feet from the basket. I think he needs to start taking some threes and build his confidence in his shot back up. Maybe that was just this game though, I haven't seen the last few.
Agree completely about the rotations, but I give them a slight break because only 3 big minutes guys were on the team last year (Smith, Vasquez, and Aminu) and I would guess they're still adjusting to the system. The actual concept of rotating should be second nature, but maybe they're still adjusting to who actually covers who in their scheme (I assume this is how defensive rotations work, I honestly have no idea). If this is still happening in January, then it's a huge problem.
We don't have any healthy athletic guards. That means, among other things, we have such "poor footspeed" (to quote Ryan) that we can't close down 3 point shooters. This isn't changing any time soon. The best thing we can do is try Henry at guard for defense, but we aren't signing a more athletic guard now. They just don't exist. So we will likely see more successful three point shooting by opposing teams.
I know the cupboard is bare, and Roy Hibbert was in foul trouble, but we had a back to back in OT or the end of regulation in which Lopez tried posting up Hibbert and Aminu curled off of a screen.. Seriously? There's a reason Hibbert blocked Lopez 8 times tonight. Aminu's curl came while Mason was in the game. Mason- cannot handle the ball. STOP TRYING TO MAKE HIM AN INITIATOR OF OFFENSE. I MEAN EVER. Let him curl off of a screen from time to time, and then the rest of the time, tell him to space the floor (even though he's average at that too). Lopez- please, please, please, stop feeding him the ball in the post like he's Hakeem. Sure, let him try once or twice. He's not an offensive player. If he's got a 6'8 or smaller guy on him, that's fine. But against Asik, Hibbert, etc.. No thanks Aminu- Still don't understand why he's curling off of screens, unless it's so he can get a head of steam to the bucket. Apparently, Aminu said his prayers last night, because that shot to tie at the end of regulation was an absolute gift. Vasquez was getting handled in OT and couldn't move anywhere until we were down 10. That's fine, I know he's limited sometimes, but I'd rather put Rivers in with him and let him run a pick and roll with Jason Smith than think Roger Mason is going to make a difference without a guard partner that's getting penetration. I love this team, I love where it's headed, but I'm constantly scratching my head at play calls. We have 2 guys on this team with an elite skill: Anderson (shooting) and JSmitty (mid-range). Not counting Gordon, obv. Hell, I would even prefer Roberts on the court to Mason. Here's looking to better days..
Rivers is getting more penetration, but he needs to develop the strength to finish more consistently........TOTALLY AGREE.....every game he is learning and improving...:)