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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.






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