A Time for Mending

By:
Published: December 30, 2012
Hurt Clock

No hope in complaining
All this lay in ruin
It’s a time for mending
Gathering of the wounds

– Prong, Broken Peace

Sports

The New Orleans Hornets had a good week against weak opponents, going 2-1 on the week and bringing their record to 7-23, with the one loss coming in overtime after a nice comeback. Fittingly, each game featured a comeback of note, which is thematic.

In the Orlando win, the Hornets held a 10 point lead with 15 minutes left to play, and Orlando chipped away at it until they held small leads briefly at the end of the game. The Hornets prevailed despite the counterattack. The Hornets three-point defense has improved, but in this game they allowed 30 attempts. Since these were made at an average rate, the damage was limited. Though the box score may indicate otherwise at a glance, the key to the game was at the line. The Hornets went 19 of 20 from the line, which is fantastic. They were led by Lopez’s 11 of 12 line at the line. Orlando went 11 of 13, but made went 10 of 10 in the last 15 minutes, during the comeback.

In the overtime loss to Toronto, the comeback was by the Hornets . . . it just fell a little short. The Hornets were down 13 with 5:30 left in the game, but closing 21-8 forced overtime. The run was fueled by going 3 of 3 from beyond the arc and 4 of 4 at the line. The Hornets again gave up a larger than average number of three point attempts and sent the Raptors to the line 32 times. The three-ball fell at about a 20% clip, and the free throw rate was average.

In the Bobcats win, it was the Hornets again that had the comeback, but this time the effort resulted in a win. The Hornets found themselves down by 21 with just under 3:00 left to play in the first half. After about 15:00 of play, however, the Hornets tied it up and edged it out in the end. The Hornets went 6 of 8 from three (ignoring a desperation heave at the end of the half), and 8 of 9 from the line during the comeback.

News

Continuing with the comeback theme, Smith returned (again) to the lineup. Smith’s labrum injury kept him out for about 2 weeks, missing 7 games total. He saw about 12 minutes of action in the Raptors game, then about 6 minutes in the Bobcats game. His minutes were minutes were limited against the Bobcats due to some quick fouls and an overall lack of production. His 4 points came in succession early in his minutes, and his last run was marred with mistakes then killed by a foul.

The Bobcats game also saw the long-awaited return of Eric Gordon. He played just under 25m off the bench, but he was out there at the close of the game and during the comeback. He posted a TS% of 0.626, an AST% of 53.3 compared to a TOV% of 9.5, and a USG% of 38.1. They rode Eric, and he brought the team home as a team.

There has been a good deal of talk about Gordon and his relationship to this team. Regardless of what has passed, winning, even against the Bobcats, in such a fashion is the fuel for change. Regardless of what the future holds for Gordon and the Hornets, or Gordon and the Pelicans, it’s best for him and the team to play well and to play together.

Good show.

Around the Site

Despite the midweek holiday, Hornets247 had more articles than usual. A two part (I, II) on the return of Eric Gordon was early in the week. Then, Jason and Mike posted a response to an article indicating that Austin Rivers is on pace to have a historically deficient season. All that plus an episode of In the NO.

`Voices’ of the People

Rivers has been somewhat disappointing and his play has been inconsistent in his rookie year. He is looked to be an important part of the team for the future so I think it’s important to give him the minutes and let him learn on the go. Hopefully Gordon will play hard and stay healthy to provide the spark on offense that the team lacks. The future looks bright but we will have to live with some losses for now to get wins in the future.

Jerry M.

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

Hank

Even though this rotation worked, you know what I thought was sad? How one of our guards were playing small forward down the stretch with Vasquez/Gordon/Mason. I’m not complaining saying this rotation didn’t work, but let’s admit it, we played the Bobcats tonight. Imagine if we played a better team? We desperately need someone to step up at SF or we need to make a trade or something.

Enough with the negativity, I’m proud of how the team played! You could tell just having Gordon on the court made a HUGE difference! Gordon’s vision was on point also. Every time he went in the lane he was looking for people around him to set them up. This team has a bright future

Snow

42 sense

There is a hypothesis floating around about the Hornets third quarter woes and what these suppose woes say about Monty as a Head Coach, the inference being that the halftime adjustments are so in favor of the other team that the blame must lie at Monty’s feet. While it’s true that the third quarter has been the source of some pain, this does not seem to hold upon further inspection.

First, let go through the average point differentials.

1234
-0.57-2.9-2.40.53

As you can see, the second and the third quarters are the offending quarters, not just the third, with the second quarter being the more highly offending one. This immediately takes the focus off of the third quarter. Averages do not tell the whole story, however, so we did more deeply.

Here are the counts of quarters won, drawn, and lost.

1234
Won1791215
Drawn2010
Lost11211715

Again, the quarters are roughly even except the second, the others being within 2 quarters of 30 of being having nor more than 15 quarters won or lost, which is clearly in the noise. Assuming equal chance of winning each quarter, however, shows the second quarter to be anomalous. As it violates this assumption with a high likelihood, it is evidence that the rate at which that quarter is won is systematically less than 0.5, as opposed to just random chance, as the data indicates that the first and third quarters are consistent with.

What about margins of victory? The following table shows the top 3 margins in each direction.

1234
Best11101712
Second Best871011
Third Best87711
Third Worst-10-14-14-6
Second Worst-12-18-17-8
Worst-18-21-17-11

Again, the second quarter has the smallest positive margins and the largest negative margins.

Looking at the number of extreme quarters, one can get a sense of why the third quarter `feels’ worse.

1234
Margin > 91123
Margin < -93471

The third quarter does seem to have more extreme quarters, with most of those being negative. Also, none of those seven games with deficits of 10 or larger in the third quarter led to victory. Each of the large positive relative outputs in these quarters was matched by a large negative relative output in the other yielding a 1-2 record, with the one victory being last night against Charlotte . . . so with Eric Gordon. The recent Pacers loss and the early Rockets game were the losses. In the other cases, there was a lone extreme middle quarter, and this was universally a sign of defeat. There is nothing magical here: A large deficit in one quarter without a large gain in another makes it hard to win regardless of the quarter in which it occurs. There is a large `duh’ factor here.

Looking at correlation to victory:

1234
Correlation by Differential0.45 (0.38)0.11 (0.22)0.64 (0.63)0.11 (0.32)
Correlation by W-L0.26 (0.28)0.21 (0.19)0.48 (0.57)0.02 (0.04)

The numbers in parenthesis are correlation when leaving out games with the extreme middle quarters. The fact that these are relatively unchanged implies that these extreme values are mostly shiny distraction. The relationship exists with or without them.

The third quarter point differentials and W-L record are the most strongly correlated to victory with the games with extreme middle quarters included or excluded.

This information seems paint a picture different from the hypothesis. The consistent sagging performance in the second quarter seems to be due to a lack of talent. This seems not to be replicated in the fourth quarter. This is likely due to the Hornets being behind by a good margin, thus allowing the opposition to rest their most talented players and leading to an improved Hornets performance better in `garbage time.’

With roughly 50-50 performances in the first and third quarters, though the third quarter is empirically worse, it would seem that the coaching is fine, given the talent level. In fact, the third quarter does seem key, as those adjustments seem to factor strongly into the results of the games, both positively and negatively. The lack of talent likely limits coaching maneuvers. Thus, the clear lack of talent on this team, especially from game 1 through game 29, offers a simple explanation for all these observations, and game 30 offers the potential for hope that the lack of talent issue may be mitigated to at least an enjoyable extent.

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