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!

37 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

Jack
Jack

I like him picking up the rebounds and the husles

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.

ACStamp
ACStamp

His assist numbers are inflated....GV holds the ball and dribbles in circles for 20 seconds of the shotclock, forcing somebody to shoot a shot as the clock expires. Sometimes it works, usually it doesn't. And a decent amount of his assists come from making the "extra" pass. Rivers breaks down the D, passes to GV who then makes the next the pass to whoever's guy is stuck trying to rotate defensively. Not saying GV is selfish, but I'm not going to be deceived by his assist numbers either.

Jack
Jack

They run a lot of different offensive sets in a game. Some of the failed Pick and rolls might be the one that you described. However, please don't pretend the team does not give Rivers any chances. The kid is still learning the game. Don't think he makes everything. Also I am sure one day we will see Rivers runs pick and roll once he learns how to.

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.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

Then I think we agree. I am happy to keep Lopez. If someone offers help at another position of need, however, I will definitely listen. I think that is how any business should operate. Appreciate your assets but always be open to moving them if the price is right

504ever
504ever

You mean the Avery Bradley and Fab Melo who have yet to play an NBA minute in this season? The injured PG Avery Bradley with an 11.3 PER and a 1.4/1.2 assist to turnover ratio last year in the regular season (0.8/1.0 in the playoffs) and Fab Melo the rookie C who has yet to play in the NBA? We trade a player with a top 20 PER in the league (21.85 PER), the top PER on the Hornets, and a top 5 PER among centers for some garbage at the end of Boston’s bench? You do know a PER of 21.85 is somewhere between borderline All-Star, 20.0 PER, and Bona Fide All-Star, 22.5 PER! I don’t know when Michael suggested this trade (or if he suggested it at all) but, in my opinion, anyone who suggests it now is crazy, ignorant, or both.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

Yes, personally I would do that trade, but I see why others wouldn't. Just a philosophy thing. That, and my personal projection of Robin Lopez. He has been great numbers wise over these last four games, but he average just over 6 and 4 in the five games before that. So, if we are going to talk about small sample size, we have to acknowledge both. I just dont think he translates well to the playoffs. Others might disagree and that's fine. Melo has been a beast in D-League (32,9, and 9 blocks yesterday) and Bradley was what Eric Bledsoe is now before his injury- a terrific on-ball defender with the ability to get to the rim. You slide Smith up to third big, Melo to 4th while improving your backcourt and actually giving yourself an extra 2+ mil in cap money for next summer. At this point, I am more than happy to keep Lopez, but I won't trick myself into thinking he is a quasi All-Star. Heck, based on PER Brandan Wright is an elite center. Nene is #1 in the NBA, JaVale McGee is third. Are Lopez, Nene, and McGee all top 5 centers? Lopez is a nice third big on this team, and if we keep him I would be happy but like anything else in life, you also consider selling high. I love my house, but if someone gave me twice the market value, I am selling it. Robin Lopez was not wanted by anyone this summer, even his own team. I would be shocked if all of a sudden everyone was ringing Dell's phone off the hook just four months later because of a few good games on a bad team, but if they are, he should answer and consider it IMO

JayDogon
JayDogon

I feel like you're overrating Lopez because of these few games, let's not forget last night Lopez went up against a frontline that wasn't even fully healthy with their best frontcourt player, Big Baby Glen Davis(GEAUX TIGERS!) out. Also I'm not banking on Fab Melo, I said I want to take a flyer on Greg Oden in the offseason. I mean, lets face it, this dude was almost a clear cut choice over Durant. I know hindsight is 20/20 but there was no way Portland was gonna pass on a guy that was said to basically be the closest thing to Russell since Russell! If he can even come back and be half of that off the bench he'll be the best bench big man in the league! Like I said, I like Lopez but until I see him do this on a more consistent basis I can't just buy in. And concerning the Win/Loss value of said trade, 2 of the players don't have a PER 'cause they haven't played this year yet so of course it'll result in a negative PER. You guys love Eric Bledsoe so much but he's not as good defensively as Bradley and Bradley actually performed well in the playoffs. I wouldn't mind trading Lopez for either but I really think we need to trade Lopez before his value goes back down. It's like you guys forgot how terrible he looked just a few weeks back smh

504ever
504ever

Robin's ceiling is brother Brook? Here is Brook's average stat line for this season: 29 minutes, 17.5 points, 7 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 23.3 PER. I'd take that. Robin's averages stats for the week, last four games, exceeds that in every area expect rebounds where he ties his brother's season mark. I'd take that too. Maybe Robin is coming into his own now. Monty's victory post game comments included discussing how RoLO now has to get ready to deal with double teams. DOUBLE TEAMS!! Are you kidding me? We finally have a post player that will draw two defenders on him right when Gordon is set to return and someone wants to trade him? For Celtic garbage? I want to see teams defend when Lopez, Anderson, Gordon (and Vasquez) are on the floor. What I don't want is a one dimensional PG whose only dimension is defense. That is the easiest piece to acquire in the NBA; it doesn't require height or offensive skill. I also don't want some D League beast like Melo. Remember Thomas was a D League beast, too, who made it to the D League All-Star game and the USA Pan-Am Team. But look at him in the NBA. He is a lifetime small contract guy. With 96 minutes/games at the C and PF spots, and Lopez only able to play C and Anderson only able to play PF, Lopez, Anderson, and Davis could average 27-30 minutes/game and leave 10-12 minutes/game for Jason Smith. That is plenty of playing time for those three super high PER guys over an 88 game season. (Thomas is starting at SF and getting career high minutes exclusively at SF. He is not in the PF/C equation except due to injury.) It's not that I am against trading Lopez ever, but it would take something really nice to pry him away from me. And I wouldn't do it for at least a month, so I could see the team Dell assembled this offseason play together for a while. It's not inconceivable that, at the end of the month, that group plays so well together that we don't want to trade any of them except a Lopez for Bledsoe type deal. Seeing this team healthy and really playing well together would be wonderful.

JayDogon
JayDogon

Here is the tweet where the trade is proposed https://twitter.com/McNamara247/status/284088486947090432. I told Michael on twitter that my only worry would be Bradley's injury history but I'm not saying that deal is necessarily the only one. Something like that, getting a young PG or SF who has shown some promise or getting a vet PG or SF who we know would be a productive starter. Nola Moondog is correct in pointing out Avery Bradley's defensive potential. He's already one of the best on ball defenders in the league and the reason why Ray Allen left the Celtics for Miami. Look, Lopez is playing great right now but think about it like this, not only is his success not guaranteed to continue but his ceiling is probably his brother Brook who Nets fans still have problems with because of his inability to rebound. Not to mention the fact that I believe he creates a conundrum with how the minutes should be divided between Davis, Anderson and Lopez. That's not even accounting for how he will effect Smith and Thomas' minutes as well. Trading Lopez and the pick while there value is at it's highest points would be a very shrewd move from Dealer Dell.

Nola moondog
Nola moondog

Bradley's Perimiter D has the look of becoming tony Allen like. His D is already atleast as good as Lopez's O. That being said, yeah, we would need to get more than a coming off injury Bradley and an average 5th big.

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!

xman20002000
xman20002000

We play defense to try and stop the opponent's SF from scoring... We just beat a team rebuilding and Big Baby is injured... and let's not for Turgalu (spelling).. This draft has several SF we may have access to... lottery picks..

Jack
Jack

kind of true the hornets is at a developing talent mode this season after throwing out Jack, Beli, Okaford, Ariza, Kaman, Landry, those of who are more developed but considered to be less talented and have lower ceiling than Anderson, Davis, and Rivers. Of course, those players are also more expensive to keep. I also wish people can appreciate more what Vasquez did. This season is going to be long. Our young players are going to have up and downs all season long. And we will have more losses. But we will have a bright future.

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

504ever
504ever

I can't understand if people are not Lopez fans tonight. For the week, 4 games, Lopez averaged 21, points 7 rebounds, 3 blocks and almost 1 steal. Wow!

Jack
Jack

I believe he can still be developed. More post move, then work on the passing.

Jack
Jack

I think Vasquez and Gordon can both play combo guard together.

xman20002000
xman20002000

Vasquez is always looking for his shot... but maybe he lacks confidence in the perimeter play of his team mates... Unfortunately he has problems with turnovers and the team looks confused.. so he shoots.. It's a blessing we have flexibility.. and were this Bower we would be locked into several players we recently dumped... We have a young core but we can move on...

Mickey Chatman
Mickey Chatman

I would agree but I feel like Vasquez is becoming more of a problem for this team. When I play ball the team I'm on we make sure people get into the game. Get involved. I don't see that trait in Vasquez. If its not a direct score or pass that will result in an assist he won't do it. He shows signs of selfishness. That's why I feel he should play the 2 until Gordon comes back then let rivers run point. If we're not shooting for the playoffs and rivers is our future, let him learn. Haven't anyone other than me notice that everyone stands around cause Vasquez is trying to do to much. His teammates don't run because they know they're not gonna get the ball....

xman20002000
xman20002000

This was a confusing and ugly win... Vasquez ran up 27 but nothing for the highlight film... Rivers and the rest... go figure.. But we won... I thought Coach might try Aminu or Miller... Who knows with this group... EG and Smith... come on down..

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

Can that nose of yours sniff out a GM stupid enough to trade anything of value for Aminu, because that would be a minor miracle

xman20002000
xman20002000

I agree we play far too slow for Aminu to grow with Vasquez at the Point... Hopefully we can pick up the pace and forcing Rivers to take a shot... Then our PG is always looking for his shot.... He and Henry are expiring contracts....

MZURK
MZURK

Aminu is a lottery bust, but he could have some value on on up-tempo run and gun team where his open-court dunks could be featured more frequently.

Jack
Jack

Well. Or maybe signing him cheaply?

Jack
Jack

I smelled a trade for Aminu in the air.

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!

Jack
Jack

Vasquez took 21 shots. But he was shooting well. Also, he took some last second shots.