Hornets crushed in Paint by Rockets

By:
Published: January 2, 2013
Robin Lopez

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.

Observations

  • 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.
27 comments
Josh
Josh

This game and the Atlanta game really show us that Either Lopez or Smith need to go for a big, big man.

NOS-3RD GEN
NOS-3RD GEN

I don't know this smells like a TANK job to me. We are doing so bad right now and somebody is not fired. A plan is in the works here. I can't wait 4 it to unfold.Its either we're sucking cause we suck, we suck because of bad coaching, lack of leadership, and development, or because we're tanking. Well I say "Long Live The TANKING."

Ron
Ron

How do I vote thumbs up and down at the same time? I whole-heartedly agree with everything but the last sentence. Tanking is shameful and malicious fraud against the people who pay their hard-earned money for season tickets.

xman20002000
xman20002000

We aren't tanking.. we're adjusting... So if you think we are a playoff team.. Who are we going to beat... And be advised Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack are smoking the Bay Area.. b oth are averaging 12.3 ppg and about 26 mpg...

mateor
mateor

As long as the players and the coach try to win I am ok with things. But phantom injuries or aggressive benching of players is unethical in my view. It upsets the competitive balance across the league. What the Warriors did last year, especially with the bogus D.Lee injury, was shameful. I will never forget when Buck Showalter purposefully threw the last game of the season in order to screw the Yankees (who had fired him) out of their seed. A manager pursuing a personal vendetta while playing with the emotions of millions of paying citizens...I thought he should have been banned. The Hornets fought to a bunch of "ill-advised" wins at the end of last season...we got the first overall pick with honor, I believe. No need to press Eg's minutes, you understand...

Chris W
Chris W

When I saw Gordon wasn't playing I nearly panicked until I realized what the purpose was. I am all for the cautious approach they are taking. Much like the Toronto game I feel like if Gordon is in the game it is a different outcome. While I would say Harden is better than Gordon, he still would have been able to hang with Harden on both offense and defense better than anyone else on the Hornets. I totally agree with needing to have a legitimate starting 5. I wasn't a fan of Anderson coming of the bench after playing so great as a starter. Once Gordon starts, I would hope Anderson is in there as well. I feel like that combo would produce some really good results since both those guys can shoot or take it inside and defenses will really have to pick there poison. Maybe Anderson at the 3 spot with Gordon, Vasquez, Davis, and Lopez?

xman20002000
xman20002000

What is Anderson's role... Currently he rotates with Davis coming off the bench and he is our long ball shooter... But what happens inside and under the rim.. He has a shot like Peja and a better defensive game..

mateor
mateor

I am interested in this too. Anderson has shown zero inclination or ability to slide to the three spot so far in his career...but maybe he just have never been asked to. Either way, his skills and deficiencies as a SF would make for some interesting sets. Although I tend to believe that Monty doesn't plan to really have RA spend any time at the three at all. His insistence on bringing him off the bench, even when the team was short-handed, speaks to a coach not wanting to mess with the player's defined role. Still, plans change...

davesmall
davesmall

Considering they were missing Gordon, the Hornets played pretty well and hit their shots from outside. Asik and Harden are monsters. So many of the pundits picked the Rockets to be cellar dwellers but they're playing well for such a young team. Asik had no offense in Chicago but must like the water in Houston because he's putting up double doubles.

xman20002000
xman20002000

The thinking was that Hardin would get them over the top.. a contender..The owner wanted Dwight Howard but settling on Asik..

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

They did get Harden just before the season, which made them a good bit better compared to their team with Kevin Martin. Not sure what to make of Asik's offense. Maybe it's just the difference in focus there from the stout defense in Chicago.

hornetshornets
hornetshornets

Is Anthony Davis hurt? I noticed the tape around his wrist and he has missed an unusual amount of FTs recently (1-8 in the last 3 games). As far as Austin Rivers, when he missed those four free throws to end the half and hunched over, it just felt like he hit rock bottom. If he has really been working hard and these are the results, I feel for him because nobody wants to fail, especially those who work the hardest. That being said, if he doesn't produce something, I just can't see how he can have a rotation spot next year. I really hope Dell can take that $17 mil this summer and fill in the SF hole and wing depth because I would say there's about 4 rotation spots where we are inadequate and that's why Monty plays 11 guys hoping there's an answer somewhere.

xman20002000
xman20002000

WE couldn't dominate in the paint getting pushed around when there is a serious 5... I always liked a guy like Aaron Gray playing certain Bigs... I thought Lopez was more of a brawler but he is developing a finesse game with a hook shot... We need another Big which makes the rumored trade with the Celtics seem palatable... An observation was made that EG and Aminu are working together... Coach is supposed to like the combination... WE shall see...

Ken
Ken

Monty seems to bite off his nose to spite his face at times. Aminu is obviously the best option at small forward. Lance Thomas, Xavier Henry and Dominic McGuire have no talent and have no business starting. Austin Rivers should have accompanied Miller to the D-League.

Mike P
Mike P

Inside info has said that Aminu has consistently ignored advice from Monty/Dell. I don't know if Monty is just swinging back and forth between 3s, or if Aminu has finally started doing what he's told.

504ever
504ever

Did not see the game; was at the Sugar Bowl looking at updates on my phone. Why was Lopez with 12 points on 12 shots, and 7 rebounds, in 18 minutes not playing more? If no big defends the pick and roll better than any other, at least play the guy who takes high percentage shots and has a very high TS% (true shooting percentage). Right?

Ron
Ron

Let me highlight the article: 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.

Ron
Ron

but those guys usually scrambled back and made a contest of it. Which is why Anderson and Smith played instead of Lopez.

504ever
504ever

Ron, Except you missed this quaote which made it sound like no big actually stopped the pick and roll: "They got by Anderson and Smith too – but those guys usually scrambled back and made a contest of it."

Ryan Schwan
Ryan Schwan

I probably wasn't clear enough. Anderson and Smith - mostly Smith - were contesting the pick and rolls. They would recover and apply some defense and force misses here and there. Lopez wasn't even able to contest. When he got beat, it was over.

Ron
Ron

I probably wasn’t clear enough. You were.

sweetpea
sweetpea

I thought Gordon said about a week ago he wasn't planning on missing any more time this year because of his knee.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

This was reportedly a conditioning / minutes thing.

mojart
mojart

please get us some wins.....

Jordan J.
Jordan J.

Like I said the last time we played the Rockets, every single time Harden does the euro-step it's a travel. Monty was actually yelling to the refs about it every time he did it. It's really difficult to watch with getting frustrated.

Rafa Brazil
Rafa Brazil

Don't actually care as long as Gordon is on the floor and getting the same kind of treatmet from the refs... Since that didn't happen, I almost hit my head against the wall everytime Harden got to the line or did that euro-travel... So bad I live in Brazil, hope I can attend to a Hornets game before the rebranding...

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