Hornets Lose at Home to the Offensively Challenged Wizards

Published: December 11, 2012

“We played down to their level.”

That was the word coming out of the locker room, as Jason Smith pointed out something glaringly obvious, yet completely unexplanable. How could a team with the worst record in the Western Conference think that they can come into any game and take an opponent lightly? How can you afford to not play with the same intensity that we all saw you play with on opening night against the Spurs? We can’t blame the injury bug anymore, because tonight featured the return of Anthony Davis, and that means that we had the same 12 guys suited up tonight as we did that first week and a half when this team was earning their way into all of our hearts with high intensity, focus, and determination. The bodies of those players are the same, but the heart and soul has been replaced with something that is less than what us diehard fans deserve.

I wish I could say that this was an abberation, but if you listen to the latest ‘In the NO’ podcast, I told you all that I had a feeling this was coming. I saw this team do the exact same thing last year, specifically against the Bobcats in a game that was even more unwatchable than this one. They don’t bring the same intensity for games against the bottom tier teams, and instead of putting a game like this in the win column, they just add to a steadily rising loss column that will continue to grow as this schedule simply does not let up any time soon.

It was nice when we could lie to ourselves, saying we were just a healthy Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon away from being a respectable team. We can stay in this illusion and imagine a world in which these players cover up all the gaping holes in Vasquez or Aminu’s game. As fans, we love to believe that this team is better than they really are, and that all it will take to climb our way back to respectability is a full squad showing up healthy. At that point, our opponents will just lie down and hand us the victory that we somehow feel entitled to for no reason in particular.

The fact is, however, that this team needs a lot more than a healthy Eric Gordon to be at the level that they all seem to think that they are at already. You don’t take quarters, halves, or entire nights off when you are this far away from average, let alone greatness. How does the saying go? It is always darkest before the dawn. Well, it doesn’t get much darker than this, so here’s hoping we have reached rock bottom. That’s as glass half full as I can get after this performance.

Notes and Observations

– 504-322-3333. Play with the trade machine and then tell Ryan and I how you would solve this mess. Have you finally given up on Aminu? Is it time to trade a big for a small? Can we get through this season with Vasquez at the point without losing our minds? Give us your ideas, because honestly, I need something to distract me from the on-court play of this team.

– Everybody is going to pile on Greivis Vasquez after this game, but honestly, he is not a starter in this league and this is what happens when you put the fate of your team in the hands of a guy who should be a 7th or 8th man. That said, it was Monty’s decision to put the ball in Vasquez’s hands in the 4th quarter when both Roberts and Rivers were having better nights running the offense. Monty is loyal to his guys, sometimes to a fault. Tonight was one of those times.

– Ryan Anderson went ice cold in the second half, and that is going to happen with shooters no matter how good they are. What I am more upset about it that they didn’t just keep going to Anderson when he had the hot hand. He was red hot in the first half, and they ran post-ups for Lopez or got Aminu 15-footers off of curls. Really? Feed the man while he is hot, and maybe he never goes cold in that second half.

– Rivers was fantastic, save for some shots he had to chuck up at the end of game and his three missed free throws. He is starting to play with pace and is taking his time when going to the hole, as opposed to flying to the rim out of control and hoisting up garbage. He seems to be letting the game come to him more and more, and I only expect that to become the norm as the season goes on.

– Lopez was fine, playing to a relative draw with Emeka Okafor tonight. The bigs minutes tonight were: Anderson-38, Davis-25, Lopez-22, Smith-11. I still would like to see Davis and Anderson around 34, with Lopez and Smith both around 16, but this wasn’t a bad distribution considering Davis was working his way back.

– Speaking of Davis, he was good on both ends of the court tonight and didn’t seem inhibited at all by his injury. He was terrific when it came to hedging or showing on screens and with his weakside defense, but he was still pushed around quite a bit under the basket. Teams should take advantage of that now, because I dont think they will be able to for much longer.

– If you still believe that Al-Farouq Aminu can be a key part of this team moving forward, then you were probably one of those people who held on until the bitter end with Julian Wright. Maybe this will work out differently, but I’m not betting on it, which is why I was happy to see Darius Miller play well in spurts tonight. Xavier had his shot and Aminu has gotten two- isn’t it time to give Darius Miller an extended look?

– Tomorrow night at Thunder!



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