Hornets crushed in Paint by Rockets

Published: January 2, 2013

A lot of the wind went out of my sails when I found out Gordon wouldn’t be playing in this game tonight.  The Hornets had said they’d probably do this when he came back on back-to-back game nights, but then Monty said something about adjusting Gordon’s minutes against the Rockets.  Didn’t know he’d adjust them in that way.

The loss tonight, as always, rests on the Hornets defense.  Lin and Harden – and Parsons, for that matter – were regularly getting past their primary defender, whether it was Rivers, Vasquez, McGuire, Mason . . . whatever, you get the point:  If it was a Hornet perimeter player, they weren’t putting up much resistance.   That forced the Hornets bigs to rotate, which gave a dump off to another big or a close shot for the guard.  The Hornets bigs did a good job contesting those shots – but there is a reason why shots at the rim are high percentage.  The result was 60 points in the paint for the Rockets.  An average NBA team gets about 34.

It’s a shame, too, because the Hornets were really scrapping for rebounds and giving it everything they could.  They scratched and clawed and ended up tying it with a few minutes to go before being unable to keep up the scoring pace.


  • The Hornets starting five has to change.  Someone needs to sit down for Anderson or Mason.  The spacing is atrocious, and though Lopez had his offensive game going tonight to start, it’s still a struggle to play like that.  Or maybe I should shut up and wait for Gordon to get into the starting lineup.
  • Anthony Davis was a -14 for the game and he earned it.  Of all the Hornets bigs, his rotations were the worst.  In the first quarter he didn’t even seem interested in coming over to help.  Later in the game, it got better, but that level of effort is winning no games.
  • Robin Lopez had a nice game against Asik offensively, and was doing really well on the boards.  The reason he didn’t show up much in the second half was, as usual, his inability to get back and defend the rim on the pick and roll.  The Rockets guards – and as the roll man – Asik just flew by him.   They got by Anderson and Smith  too – but those guys usually scrambled back and made a contest of it.
  • Vasquez had a good game finding jump shooters all night as the Hornets forwards were hitting at a decent clip.  They tried using him at the point of attack in the fourth, but after he was stymied three possessions in a row and couldn’t get past the three point line, they started using him to set picks and got the ball to Ryan Anderson to start the offense.  Once they posted Vasquez and let Anderson pass in to him.  That worked a little better.  Let’s see more of it.
  • The Hornets really need to start making their free throws.  Davis and Rivers were 1-8.
  • Speaking of Rivers, he was terrible, following his stinkbomb against Atlanta with another tonight.  If your primary ability is going to be driving to the basket to draw fouls, you might need to hit those foul shots.  Coaching legend Tex Winter always counted two missed free throws as a turnover.  We apply that to Rivers and he had more turnovers and fouls than points.
  • In my Keys to the Game, I mentioned not to go against Asik on the pick and roll.  The Hornets did tonight – and you can’t avoid it entirely – and managed to score on exactly one quarter of those possessions.  Asik is a monster when he’s not shooting layups or free throws.
  • Jason Smith is still hurting.  You can tell by the way he carries that shoulder.  Regardless, he was throwing his body around, and the Hornets defense was so much better with him out there.  Even if the rebounding got worse.
  • Aminu played 31 minutes.  Honestly, he gives you more offensively than Lance Thomas does.  Tonight, he seemed more locked in defensively and gave good energy.  At the end of the game, he was forced into taking long jumpers and missed them badly, but really that was because the Hornets first and second efforts had failed to produce anything at all.  If I had to pick my poison from the Hornets SF position, I guess right now I’m taking Aminu.


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