Losing Streak snapped in Orlando

By:
Published: December 26, 2012
Robin Lopez

The Hornets break their 11-game losing streak in a hard fought game that featured career highs in points from Vasquez and near career highs from Robin Lopez

I’m happy we watched a win.  Vasquez and Lopez deserve paeans of joy, as their offensive efforts kept the Hornets in this thing all game long.

Vasquez had some beautiful drives down the edge of the paint that he finished with floaters and his patented no-jump layups high off the glass.  He helped out mightily on the glass and put down two huge free throws to seal the game.

Lopez was an offensive monster, scoring over Vucevic, handling the double teams that ran at him, showing soft hand catching and finishing around the rim, while coldly drilling free throw after free throw as the Magic started fouling freely to try and stop him.  I honestly can’t remember when we last had a guy who can score in the post like Lopez can.   Elden Campbell?  Give him the right matchup and a team determined not to double, and Lopez will provide excellent complimentary scoring.

That all said, I shudder at the defensive end of the court when Vasquez-Lopez is trying to defend a pick and roll.  The Magic discovered this by the third, and ran a steady diet of Nelson-Vucevic/Ayon pick and rolls at the two of them and the results were downright embarrassing.  Neither of the two defenders could even stay with Nelson, and the Hornets kept having the underbelly of their defense exposed for easy layups or kick outs.  It was really, really bad.  Monty had to adjust and play Ryan Anderson less minutes because only Davis had the length and speed to be able to come over to help on those pick and rolls in any way.

At one point I actually caught myself saying “Yes!” at the screen when a switch happened and Anthony Davis was left on an island defending Nelson rather than Vasquez.  In essence, I was cheering a mediocre chance of stopping Jameer over what I was getting from his normal defender.

Monty was pulling every tool out of his coaching book tonight to close that win.  In an illustration of how one-sided some of our players are, he was doing 3-man offense-defense substitutions at the end of the game.   That’s right, more than half of our team either sucks at offense or defense.  Ugh.  He also yanked Rivers early in the first half and cycled Mason and McGuire in to try to find someone interested in guarding the perimeter.  The Magic had drilled 7 threes in the first half, and exactly one of those makes had been contested.    The communication between Rivers, Vasquez and Thomas was downright abysmal during that stretch, and though I have a hard time figuring out which one was missing their rotations, it seemed like Rivers was the primary issue.

In the end, however, the Hornets fought for everything, Lopez and Vasquez couldn’t be stopped, and they pulled out a win.  Good to see.

  • Austin Rivers was +16 for the game despite the fact that once again he couldn’t hit a shot.  He did, however, make a difference out there, as during a stretch in the third it was his drives to the basket that kept the Hornets in the game.  Even when he missed his shots, he kept drawing multiple defenders and various Hornets kept flying through those open lanes to clean up the garbage.
  • Ryan Anderson had a tough game getting free of Afflalo, who probably had to pick some of Ryan’s armpit hair out of his teeth he was tracking so tightly.  Still, Ryan did make the most of the crossmatches he created and despite having another bad game from deep, finished with 15 points on 11 shots.  He just kept working.
  • Davis is starting to show his talent on the glass and his potential to be a Chandler-like finisher of the pick and roll.  His length continues to amaze defensively and he’s starting to get a feel of how to get his blocks.  He can already have a pretty big impact on things – but how I wish he’d stop trying to be a small forward.  I don’t care if your name is Kevin Durant, taking lots of 20-foot shots is bad shot selection.  And Davis is not Durant.  Cut down on the long jumpers.
  • McGuire competes as hard as anyone I’ve seen out there and is a good defender.  He’s got to learn to be tight in that corner for his long jumpers, though.  He hit all three of his shots tonight and all of them were fired a step or two inside the three point line.  If he can master the three-and-D he’ll stick in the league.
  • Robin Lopez has 3 rebounds.  He confuses me so much.  How do you manage only three rebounds, but get three blocks – one of them a vital one during crunch time?  Isn’t it harder to time a single block than to stumble into three rebounds during a game.

Smith and Gordon are coming back soon.  If the Hornets can snatch another two wins this week, they could build some real momentum.  Right?  Right!?

Next game is at home against Toronto.  Go Pelinets!

33 comments
504ever
504ever

Let's try this Lopez thing another way. Who would you rather have on your team, assuming they all made the exact same salary out of Cs we should all be familiar with: Lopez, Kaman, Okafor, or Tyson Chandler? Now, who would you rather have with their actual 2012-2013 salary factored in: Lopez ($5M), Kaman ($8M), Okafor ($13.5M), or Tyson Chandler ($13.5M)? My vote is Lopez for both, although for the first question Chandler is in the running. (Age, 30, and injury history knock him out for me in the end.) My point is name a center that is a better blend of performance, salary, and youth than Lopez. Below is a separate point. While I take Lopez ignoring the salary differences, it is important to me to note for the next few years the Hornets have only $10M tied up in their top two Cs, Lopez and Davis, and only $11M tied up in their top two PFs, Anderson and Smith. Even with $19M tied up in three guards (Gordon, Vasquez, and Rivers) the Hornet's have a huge amount of cap space to use to improve the team. Lopez is a great value, and we don't need to reduce our spending on bigs. We are in great shape there already, and don't need a salary dump trade for Lopez. So for me the only question is can we get something valuable for Lopez, possibly at another position?

NOS-3RD GEN
NOS-3RD GEN

Why is everybody so fixated on trading Lopez? the center is not the best position right now in this decade and as long as we have an average Center we're okay I would love to make a trade to receive ricky rubio. Besides CP3 And Rajon Rondo, Rubio is the most likeliest players we can afford and keep.he's a great passer , have good defense, can score some points, a great playmaker, and due to that injury problem his value is low, so we might could get a good bargain for him!

Hank
Hank

Has anyone else noticed that Anthony Davis leads all rookies in steals per game. Even Lillard. And hes playing 7 less minutes per game. If he plays almost all of the rest of the season he still needs to win rookie of the year with those defensive numbers and rebound rates

Chris
Chris

I see a lot of potential in Lopez. His offensive numbers are good. Amongst centers he is 13th in scoring, 6th in FG%, 6th in FT%, and has a 21.85 PER, which is mostly an offensive stat. Defensively he isn't too bad either ranking 6th amongst centers in blocks, which is one of the most important defensive stats for a center. Now where his game severely lacks is in rebounding. For a guy as big as Lopez it amazes me how he doesn't manage to grab more boards. If he can develop that part of his game and manage to get somewhere around 7 or 8 rebounds per game, that would put him in the top 20 in rebounding amongst centers, around guys like Bosh, Gasol, Hibbert, and his brother Brook. If those rebounding numbers improve while improving or even maintaining his offensive output, R. Lopez is a top 10 center in the NBA and a major asset on this Hornets team that not many people really expected. Lopez plays with a lot of fire and you can tell he has a desire to get better and it helps that he finally belongs to an organization putting faith in him and giving him the minutes to improve. If he is traded like some are calling for, I can see him being amongst the many former Hornets around the league who are significant contributors to their teams.

Andres
Andres

I'm happy to see that Lopez had a very good game last night. If he could get some additional training from a former rebounding machine he could be a really good center. While I have hammered Lopez in the past for not rebounding and not scoring well in several games I must admit that last night he played really smart. I also agree with the folks that believe the Hornets should trade him while his trade value is high. History has shown that Lopez is able to put up some very good games but sadly those are a handful games only and he tends to disappear very often.

NOEngineer
NOEngineer

Lopez is awesome enough this stretch to make me forget Aaron Gray. He is someone we should keep. We have nobody else that can bang until Davis can add 30 - 40 pounds of muscle. If we trade him we ought to hold out for extremely good return. Fantastic game by Vasquez. If he could make those mid-range shots consistently he would be worth keeping for years. So far his percentages are way too low, so espero que vaya con dios! Davis has almost turned the corner. Still lost more often than not on defense, but if our guards can see him more often on the offensive end he will win ROY walking away. Ryan Anderson has terrific smarts and toughness on offense. He also looked way lost on D when he came in the game, and gave up a lot of easy shots. He seemed to adjust over the course of the game and tightened up toward the end just enough. If we trade him I'll be pissed. We could not find a better player for the money, even if it's two or three players. Lastly, it felt so good to get a win. When they called that phantom goaltend on Anthony Davis' perfect block, I was sure we would lose by 1 point so we could stay miserable. Thanks, basketball gods!! By the way, I'll be on vacation out of town, so it's okay to let the Hornets to win at home this weekend.....

Tony
Tony

Selfish players arent top 5 in assists. Just saying. He wont be taking that many shots when EG returns and we can get some consistent production from our SG spot. Good game Vasquez and Lopez.

JayDogon
JayDogon

I like Lopez and love what he's doing for us right now but it's time to strike while the iron is hot and trade him for a piece of the future and possibly the present. Michael had a great 3 team trade idea in which we got Avery Bradley and Fab Melo from the Celtics and all we had to do was give Lopez to the Kings. Something like that would be greatly beneficial. Great win tonight and hopefully this was just the stocking stuffer present and Gordon's health will be the true present for us this year. Geaux Hornets.

selim sivad
selim sivad

I think Vasquez NOLA should trade Vasquez. Then he would make it to the playoffs...Good game Greivis, great drive at the end, great free throws! great assists! You need a good backup ... no need to play 42 minutes. It is a pity Austin Rivers does not know how to play the point, he could be your back up...Also there is no SG or SF to make a big play at the end... so you have to make everything!

Mickey Chatman
Mickey Chatman

You can bask in Vasquez numbers but I have to point out the fact that he almost gave the game away by trying to play one on one ball again. He hit clutch free throws but that was cause Lopez bailed him out the play before with the block. I honestly feel like Vasquez should play the 2. I was so excited until this point. Still a good team win though. And I have to be honest, I'm becoming a Lopez fan

Bob
Bob

This is what I clearly can't understand we are playing players that would not play on another teams. We have guards that do not move the ball. Vasquez 21 shots? Dominic don't know the plays and Lance is not a 3 and you wonder why the Hornets are 6-22. What is Monty doing? He talks about defense but what about putting the ball in the hole also? Look at the players that are getting minutes at the 2 and 3, Mason, Rivers, Lance, Dominic and Henry...Eric can't help with those players on the floor. Monty have to make some adjustments. Hornets are 6-22 with them eating up the clock( need I say more?). Every losing team in the league has made adjustments, why haven't Monty? You think the Hornets are going to win? They haven't yet!