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Hornets Can’t Keep up with High Powered Thunder

Published: December 1, 2012

Hustle. Work hard. Never give up. Monty can preach these things to his team all season, and on some nights like Monday against the Clippers, these things will be rewarded with a victory. But what happens when you face a team that has a coach who preaches all of the same fundamentals, but happens to have far superior talent? Tonight’s 100-79 loss is what happens.

The Thunder weren’t even on their A game tonight and they handled the Hornets with ease. A couple of times the Hornets got the lead down to nine or ten, but the Thunder would respond with a five or seven point run in the next minute to push the game back out of reach. The Hornets needed to be perfect tonight, but they were far from it, missing 18 of 24 three’s, turning over the ball 15 times, and simply failing to contest some wide open perimeter looks.

You knew coming into this game that a win was unlikely, but the hope was that the team could come away from tonight with some positives to take into next week, but I am struggling to come up with any right now. The offense was static and predictable, the defense was soft, and the execution on both ends was non-existent. With all that said, it only counts as one loss and the Hornets now know exactly how they stack up with the best of the best. There is a long way to go and the process continues Monday night against the Bucks

Notes and Observations

– If we look at the season as a whole, can we really say that Al-Farouq Aminu is any different than the player we saw last year. He had a couple of nice games at the beginning of the season because he got out into transition for easy buckets, but this Thunder team is a team that we will have to contend with for the next 5-10 years and when you watch the elite teams, you realize none of them have regular players or starters as flawed as Aminu. People think of Thabo Sefolosha as a defender, but he can hit the three, put the ball on the floor and create for others, and most importantly, he does not turn the ball over. The Thunder simply do not respect Aminu on the offensive end, and as a result the Hornets spacing is terrible when he is on the court. This is where the optimists will say, “But he is still young…” which brings me back to my first point that he is basically the same player we saw last year, we leads me to conclude that he will basically be the same player next year and so on and so on.

– It was nice to see Austin Rivers looking for his own offense more tonight because he is going to have to get reps in that area in order to improve. Unfortunately, however, it just wasn’t his night save for a nice little three point play on his first shot of the evening. Rivers tried to get others involved at different points in the game, but the length of the Thunder closed up some passing lanes that Rivers thought were wide open. On a positive note, I think he has grown considerably in his on-ball defense over the last month. Kevin Martin got him in iso situations a couple of times tonight and more times than not Rivers was able to stay in front of him or force him to the side where he had help. Baby steps.

– Brian Roberts can score, there is no doubt about that at this point. But there is no way the letters ‘PG’ should come after his name in the box score. He has little to no desire to create for his teammates, and again, that would be fine if he was our shooting guard, but he is not and that is the main problem I have with him right now. And if you are on the fence, I will give you some homework. Watch, or better yet, go to Monday night’s game and tell me if you ever see Roberts talking to his teammates after timeouts, while free throws are being shot, etc. I have never seen it. Austin tried to talk to him today about a particular play and Roberts just shrugged when Rivers finished his question. Point guards are always talking to their teammates, trying to figure things out so the team can get the most efficient shot possible. Brian Roberts does not do this because Brian Roberts is not a point guard.

– Lopez really worked hard tonight on both ends of the floor. Unfortunately, no matter how hard he works against the Thunder, he is always going to be at a severe disadvantage on the defensive end when they put him in the pick and roll. Offensively, he had a great touch and I was pleased all the way around with one exception- he’s got to get to the free throw line. Other than that, probably the best overall performance by a Hornet tonight.

– You know Ryan Anderson is having an off night when he misses two free throws. Others are concerned by the 2 for 10 effort from three, but that happens. Missing two free throws tells me that either Anderson is banged up or he is just tired from having to carry this team on the recent road trip. Hurry back Anthony and Eric, Ryno needs you!

– Nick Collison out Jason Smith-ed Jason Smith tonight, providing the energy, hustle, and production that Smith brought earlier this week against the Clippers. Jason Smith just hasn’t been quite right since that game, and tonight specifically I noticed a slight hitch in his jumper that isn’t usually there. He wasn’t getting any lift on his jumper and he might have been overcompensating with his arms, which would force the whole shot to break down.

– The Thunder came in with a clear plan when it came to Greivis Vasquez and it worked like a charm tonight. They pressed him full court and took the ball out of his hands, and in the half court they switched pick and roll’s and their bigs were agile enough to stay in front of him most of the time. On occasion he got by, but simply missed an open layup. A frustrating night for Vasquez, and the team as a whole.






  1. mateor

    December 1, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Historically, the Hornets have had little patience with score-only guards, no matter how popular. CP3 had Pargo stand in his wedding and still he was gone. That was Byron Scott, but Monty has done the same.

    Let me just note that the Thunder put Haseem Thabeet on the floor for 20 mins (a literal eternity in Thabeet years) and he ended the game with a positive plus/minus.

    So we might have a top three pick again next season, for real. Basketball is a team game here, guys. Davis is too young to drag us to respectability by his lonesome, and EG doesn’t have a contract to play for this year. Next year is going to be great, though.


    December 1, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    The Thunder are the worst match-up in the league for the Hornets. They are too athletic and skilled plus they are young and, unlike the Heat, Spurs and Lakers, never take a night off to rest up for the post season. In both games with the Thunder they just toyed with the Hornets. You had the feeing to could have won by 40 if they really had to. Micheal is completely right about Aminu. Thank goodness Del didn’t pick up his option. Even without EG and a quick point guard, small forward is our biggest weakness. How long before Miller starts in front of Aminu?

  3. SP

    December 2, 2012 at 1:11 am

    I don’t think we are going to see Ryno at his best until we have EJ and AD back in the lineup. Right now he’s priority number 1 on the opponents scouting report and aside from AFA getting out on the break, he’s really the only player the defense needs to worry about.

  4. xman20002000

    December 2, 2012 at 4:06 am

    I love the contributors on this rag from an information standpoint agreeing with everything said.. But we need to move on acknowledging this team the post NBA regime, however, moving forward let assume there will be changes in personnel when trading starts…

    In professional basketball you can find players.. We don’t have to remain young… We know Aminu is a liability, but is he a bench player of any value… We have expitiThere are articles on the net, mostly rumor, until the action starts..

    We are a non-playoff team therefore we can trade players upgrading the roster.. Some folks suggest trading Lopez for a real live small forward trading Aminu, Lopez, Rivers and whomever to Boston or other teams… Who knows… Even EG was mentioned in trade… WE don’t have to remain this young and we may not…

    Tonight Kevin Durant is the Thunder starting Small Forward… We are in the Southwest Division with Rudy Gay/Memphis, Shawn Marion/Dallas, Chandler Parsons/Houston, and Danny Green/Spurs are the respective starting Small Forwards for their respective teams..

    Coach seems to be coaching up these young guys but also seeing who he is going to keep… We need a veteran PG and we need production out of the 2 and 3 that we aren’t getting at the moment…Davis is a rookie but his production is off the chain..

    Remember we started Belinelli and Ariza at the 2 and 3 last season… And Aminu nor Henry got extensions… Just for the record the following:

  5. Andres ULM Warhawk

    December 2, 2012 at 4:31 am

    Did anyone else see those red warm-ups? have they always had those?

    • Dariusz Ejkiewicz

      December 2, 2012 at 5:17 am

      It was one of those NBA Actions, I think they had the ‘Love’ logo on the back of those warm-ups.

    • Andrew Smith

      December 2, 2012 at 7:45 am

      It’s for Hiv awareness

  6. Lucas Ottoni

    December 2, 2012 at 7:16 am

    OMG. This season will be long. Long and disappointing…

    • Gary

      December 2, 2012 at 1:10 pm

      We don’t have Gordon or Davis. I don’t know what you expect. Were the second youngest team in the NBA. Give it time man, well get better

      • Lucas Ottoni

        December 2, 2012 at 3:16 pm

        2013??? Where are you??? DRAFT, DRAFT, DRAFT!!!

      • Jason Calmes

        December 2, 2012 at 3:18 pm

        Lucas, I fail to see how you are adding to the conversation.

        Make a point. There are places for empty griping. You already did that. Now advance the conversation or wait for an opportunity to do so.

    • Nithenz

      December 2, 2012 at 2:06 pm

      I never have a long Hornet season… i could watch them 12 months a year. Disappointing…maybe, but i try to look for the positives.

      • Rafa Brazil

        December 2, 2012 at 7:11 pm

        I prefer to watch Rivers getting more confident… the kid can play, but for some reason, he just won’t be that offensive player we’ve always seen, seems like a worried guy, like ” if I turn it over or don’t hit the jumper I’m gonna be benched for the rest of the period” and therefore he just will not attempt to do his thing….

        confidence kid! We believe in you!!

        This season is another test for real Hornets fans, prior to the glory we need to stand for our team while it is developing! Ask the thunder fans, how painful it was to watch Durant win 20 games in his rookie season!

        GO HORNETS!!

  7. ktrufant

    December 2, 2012 at 9:18 am

    I’m sorry I really don’t understand all of the “Aminu-is-a-bad-basketball-player” talk. He is one of the teams best rebounders and leads the team in steals per 48 minutes. He turns the ball over more than he should but I blame that (largely) on the absence of Gordon, the limitations of Vasquez. He is a poor jump shooter (and foul shooter) but generally plays within himself offensively. The team is lacking in talent and what talent they have, is injured (Gordon, Davis) or asked to do too much (Anderson, Aminu). It’s weird to see so much blame heaped on Aminu when Lopez (two defensive boards and as many total rebounds as Aminu) and Rivers are given the benefit of the doubt.

    • Michael McNamara

      December 2, 2012 at 9:43 am

      I dont see anybody saying that Aminu is a bad basketball player. What is being said is that when this team is ready to really compete in 2-3 years, can he be your starting small forward? You look at the top 4-8 teams in the league and none of them have a starter as limited as Aminu. If we are talking about a 25 win team, sure he can start- why not? But if the bar in 3 years is 58 wins and a WCF appearance, Aminu is an 8th man at best

      • ktrufant

        December 2, 2012 at 10:56 am

        I guess I overstated it a bit, my fault. But that’s the thing, Aminu’s in his third year and has shown steady improvement each season without regressing on the things he does well. I think in 2-3 years definitely he can be the starting small forward. Overall (and granted it’s early in the season) I think he holds his own with the starting small forwards not named James or Durant on the teams that are leading their divisions (even if much of the rest of the team doesn’t). I get what you are saying about limitations however a productive player is a productive player. Having a 3-point shot could make Aminu more productive but not having one doesn’t make him less productive. In the end, no matter how it looks, I think he does (and will do) enough to earn a starting position on a good to great team.

      • Michael McNamara

        December 2, 2012 at 12:00 pm

        So, you think he has improved. I see no improvement but I am willing to have an open mind. Where have you seen improvement?

      • Rafa Brazil

        December 2, 2012 at 7:18 pm

        I see Aminu’s assignment open for an easy dunk or uncontested 3 pointer more than I seen him using his freakish lenght to slow down his opponent… At best a role player on a contender with an improved jump shot… we should look for a trade for him at the trade deadline while he’s still young and “has potential”

      • ktrufant

        December 2, 2012 at 7:54 pm

        It’s still early in the season but just looking at basketball-reference or thenbageek’s numbers Aminu has improved in FG%, his total rebounding has gone from good to outstanding, he’s fouling less, stealing the ball more and his assits are up. All of these have been trending up since he got in the league.

        I think his improving (though still average or just below average overall) FG% comes from taking better shots and fewer threes. He’s always been a good rebounder. Fouling less and stealing the ball more look like overall smarter defense to me. And the improved assit numbers look like better decision making when he has the ball. In my opinion his TS% (which is below average but has also been improving) is mostly due to poor foul shooting (which seems to have gotten worse). I think he can work on that …

        His TOVs are way up though. Which seems out of line with his overall improved play. Which is why I think it is a result of the limits/absence/lack of talent in the New Orleans back court (and front court too. despite Anderson, considering Davis’ injury and the talent levels of Lopez and Smith.) Just like Anderson is called on to do more than he probably should be doing, I think Aminu is suffering from some of that too.

        I may be off but if Demps and Williams are the talent evaluators I think (hope?) they are, Aminu will be around New Orleans for a bit. Declining his option was a way of spending the money better (if on some off chance he makes a u-turn from his steady improvement or they luck into a significant upgrade at the position he’s a free agent and they can let him walk. by the same token if he continues his steady improvement, he’s still a year or two from his peak, they can lock him up long term in a reasonable contract as the bidding this offseason probably won’t be as high as it will next offseason when he is closer to his prime).

      • Rafa Brazil

        December 2, 2012 at 8:13 pm

        I get what you’re saying, just don’t think he’ll be a good defender or player overall, since he doesn’t use his athleticism and lenght to his benefit like he should, his FT is down and he might as well be putting up numbers on a bad team, when he will be needed to take care of the ball, knock down his shots and shut down his man in a much more talented team in the long term…

        I see he developed, and I think he will develop more, especially playing for team Nigeria, but just don’t see him as a contributor on a contender-level team, which we’re supposed to be in 3-4 years. Is useful now, but not in the future, that’s what I think!

    • 504ever

      December 2, 2012 at 1:10 pm

      Here is how I see Aminu (, Lopez and Vasquez (and maybe Roberts)). Everyone wants to tear them down when they are all serviceable NBA players, maybe starters maybe not. There are holes in all of their games, but strengths, too, and they are all young enough to have a chance to round out their NBA games.

      But who is better and how will you get that person? We only have one first rounder each of the next few years. We will never go over the cap, and have to sign Davis to a max contract in the next few years. For the next few years, we have a lot of money tied up in Gordon who isn’t currently dressing out.

      We all want the Hornets to be a top team in the future. So does managment… of every team in the league. We will be competing with all of those teams, some who will always spend way more than us, for every free agent in the league. If you don’t like what happened with Gordon on the open market, do you think you will like our future “big” free agent signings? We are batting 50% (1 out of 2)on our “big” free agent signing: Anderson and Gordon.

      But to answer the question about Aminu. He is playing more within himself, especially shooting less from the outside, and has a higher PER. His PER is currently nearly 3 points higher than last year, 13.4 vs 10.6, and PER doesn’t adequately factor some defensive areas where Aminu is strong. (Aminu’s PER has been higher this season, too.) If Aminu keeps improving, he could easily be an average (15 PER) or above average PER player, whose defense isn’t fully valued in PER. He is clearly a keeper. The question is at what price and in what role (as are Lopez, Vasquez, and likely Roberts).

  8. Ballboy458

    December 2, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Michael, appreciate the work you do, but the personal disdain towards the Roberts kid is as evident and apparent as the gray hairs that are starting to appear on my facial hair..

    We all know this, where there are 2 types of PG, the old time prototypical PG, one that looks to get everybody involved, own offense is secondary..then the newer age “scoring” PG/combo guard, generally where they efficiently run the offense, but the ability to score is evident and can become their calling card..

    Not even a week ago, I remember stating that this is probably what the coaches are asking of Roberts..low and behold our local newspaper has a headline “Williams wants Roberts to shoot more” I’m not a prophet, however I understand the personnel..If a kid doesn’t fit your mold of a position on the floor, doesn’t mean you unfairly judge him..

    Really? You ask us to watch the tape, and look where he shrugged his shoulders when Rivers says something to him? C’mon..what are we to take from that..he could have asked him about dinner plans, or what he thought of a girl in the front row..
    What I do know is, with the stomach flu last night he was our best guard..and continues to be our bright spot off the bench..


    • Michael McNamara

      December 2, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      No personal disdain- I think you would admit that was too strong of a statement. Do you really think I wish him ill will or deem him unworthy of my respect? Now what I will agree with is that there are different types of guards and as I said, I love him as a scoring guard, but Monty is putting him in the game with guys who need a point guard. He plays with Anderson and Smith most of the time and I would rather have a point guard who is creating for those guys than one who is solely focused on his own shots.

      I understand why people like him. This team can’t score and Roberts can hit a jumper. I get it. But long term this team needs a faciliator if Smith and Anderson are going to anchor this second unit. Just how I fell about how a team should be run

      • Ballboy458

        December 2, 2012 at 2:10 pm

        Ok “personal disdain” may have been a little strong..I do agree,however, how you elude to Monty possibly using different rotations to improve efficiencies..with the season, yet being so young, I would guess he is still trying to figure out what best fits in certain situations..
        But to my original point, Roberts is a talented kid who fills a special need for us off the bench…He’s more than adequate at facilitating, but being asked to score by the coaching staff as a primary responsibility, we cannot look at as a flaw..

  9. GerryV

    December 2, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    While watching the OKC game the obvious jumped out again…..guard play that doesn’t play make…..several situations where guard play displayed wasted dribbles,and couldn’t attack space to create enough situations for others……if guard play isn’t upgraded into next season others will suffer…..the lack of ball quicks also transfers to the defense…..what guard has the “escape game?”……also Aminu still doesn’t string enough positive possessions together.

  10. steve ciro

    December 2, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    I think the game changed when Vasquez commited his second personal foult and was taken out of the court. Vasquez needs to work out frustration better, otherwise the team will suffer the whole year and never become an elite player. Man, you can not miss easy layouts or 12 feet jumpers. Greivis if you are a leader and a motivator… who motivates the motivator…grow up quikly, I wait for it.

    On the otehr hand, I understand NOLA roster limitation, but coach Williams is losing the games, sooner that he should– in the second and third quarters– frustrating players and fans for the rest of a, then, boring game. If I can not win I rather loss a game at the last minute. Monty, the youngest coach in the second youngest NBA team will also need to learn winning games.

  11. steve ciro

    December 2, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    One more thin on Vasquez. To be a top ten PG you have to make plays that change the trajectory of a game, when your heart feels it is required, that made you a leader at college, can you do it at the NBA? Greivis go for it!

    • Nithenz

      December 2, 2012 at 2:25 pm

      I would love Greivis to get it together, but i doubt he will be able. He is just too slow and he has to reset the offense a couple of times per posesion just because he cant get past any other guard (and sometimes SG, SF PF and C can keep in front of him) I have seen him start an offense with 7 seconds in the shot clock so many times already… And other thing frustrating me (that happens for this same reason) is when we are 10 down in the fourth with 4 minutes to play and we always use the 24 seconds in the posesion. I wont complain of the team pace as that is Monty’s HUGE problem, but there are time we need to get some shots faster.

  12. JayDogon

    December 2, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    You gotta stop with the hate of Aminu, what’s so different between how he started hot now and how Jason Smith started hot 2 years ago until scouting reports came out and they cooled down? Aminu works hard and I think Monty and the team believe in his potential. You mention Sefolosha but you act is if he was always an elite defender and had the 3 point shot, if he was I don’t think Chicago(Who still to this day is looking for a starting SG) would have traded him.

  13. NOH2313

    December 2, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    Aminu isn’t a starting caliber SF. When people jumped on his bandwagon after the first few games, people like Michael and Gerry warned us that while his numbers looked good, his play hadn’t changed at all (with the exception of finishing at the rim). All in all, the 3 is a position we need to address via the 2013 draft or free agency. Miller is more than capable of backing up whoever we decide to go after. Its clearly our weakest position (followed by PG and C) and we will never be a contender until we get rid of our liabilities.

  14. Pingback: Monday Bolts – 12.3.12 | Daily

  15. Dayton Flyer

    December 4, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    I agree with the self-described “graybeard” and his assessment of the discussion about Roberts’ value as a player. It’s like the guys on this site were so adamant that Roberts is worthless – and have since been proven so utterly wrong if you’ve watched the games – that now it’s time to get desperate and grasp at straws. So let me get this straight: it’s come to critiquing a player’s reaction to a conversation that you couldn’t even hear? Seriously? OK, so now he’s not interested in being a point guard? His ast/TO ratio is 2.4 or so, roughly the same as Greivis. Can’t wait to hear what’s next… how about that BRob’s mustache is a sign that he refuses to fit in with his young teammates who can’t grow facial hair yet? That’s about as relevant as his convo with Austin Rivers.

    • Jason Calmes

      December 4, 2012 at 5:37 pm

      If he’s such a PG, then why is he being asked to score more?

      He’s worth his salary or more, but he’s being asked to do a job he’s not suited for.

      Additionally, he’s getting not better. He’s peaked. Time should be spent on him, but he’s a piece whose sun is closer to setting that to rising. This affects critiques of the strategic use of Roberts, as opposed to tactical use.

      We get it. You’re a Roberts fan. Just come here when he has his 0 assist games, too.

  16. Dayton Flyer

    December 5, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Why is he being asked to score more? a) Because the Hornets desperately need offense. b) Because he does it well. Coaches naturally want guys to play to their strengths. Roberts is an excellent shooter, especially for a backup point guard (check the numbers across the NBA of other backups). Monty is saying “Roberts shoots well, but he’s hesitant to shoot because he doesn’t want to be viewed as selfish in his rookie year. But we need him to shoot more because he is good at it.” That has nothing to do with this site’s convoluted viewpoint that he is “not a point guard.” As far as his assists go, he is 5th in the NBA in assists per game among players who average fewer than 20 minutes per game. Your usage of words like “strategic” and “tactical” use sound impressive on paper and I’m sure make people think you know what you’re talking about, but it’s more empty rhetoric, with all due respect.

    • Jason Calmes

      December 5, 2012 at 2:52 pm

      Just because they impress you doesn’t mean they are impressive.

      Using `small words’: He can help you win now, but can he help you win later? Which is more important right now?

  17. Dayton Flyer

    December 5, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Once again with the dismissive attitude toward Roberts (and it’s only 1 month into the guy’s NBA career!). I guess that’s what bothers me the most about the analysis on Hornets247 toward Roberts. I never said (and never will say) he is a great NBA player. He’s a backup. We all can agree on that. But he’s been a very good backup for us so far. You guys talk about that spot like there are dozens of quality backup point guards in the NBA. Brian Roberts is no Steve Nash or Chris Paul. But is Sebastian Telfair? Is he Jerryd Bayless? Is he C.J. Watson? Based on what Roberts has done (again in 1 month), I’d say the answer is a clear yes. Do you guys watch the NBA? Have you seen other backup point guards?

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