In the velvet darkness of the blackest night
Burning bright, there’s a guiding star
No matter what or who you are.
There’s a light over at the Frankenstein Place
There’s a light burning in the fireplace
There’s a light, light in the darkness of everybody’s life.
– The Rocky Horror Picture Show, There’s a Light
The New Orleans Hornets end their 1-2 week at 8-25. This is `good’ for last in the West by a 3.5 game margin. They are one tier from the bottom of the NBA along with Charlotte and Cleveland, all sitting above Washington and their 4-27 record.
1-2, with the win coming in overtime may not seem like a remarkable week, much less an encouraging one, but there was little to be heartened about. This was the Hornets’ first overtime win in 4 tries, which is a plus. The Hornets had the ball in their hands to avoid overtime, and at the end of overtime, the Hornets had a three point lead and were nearly guaranteed to not lose in the first OT period. Lastly, this was accomplished in part to due to strong overtime performances from Eric Gordon and Greivis Vasquez. Having and additional player who, when hot, can be quite effective, gives the Hornets meaningful chances in games that were just not present in earlier games.
Additionally, Greivis Vasquez followed up his Western Conference Player of the Week week with a strong case for dos (which Hornets247 was rooting for unapologetically): 57 points on 48 shots, 33 assists compared to only 5 turnovers, 19 rebounds, all in just under 114 minutes of action. He also shot 50% from the field and 6-11 from three. This is a slightly weaker performance than his award-winning week, and the team’s record is a losing one. The performance has been strong, and Hornets fans should be happy with what they are getting from the third-year guard.
On the other side, Vasquez recorded just one steal and one block. His TS% were 0.507 (Hawks), 0.486 (Rockets), and 0.662 (Mavericks). He also went 3-7 from the line, which is too low in both conversion rate and trips. Coach asked Greivis to work on his turnovers; he did. Lock that in and work on getting to the line. If it comes together, this guy is going to be exciting.
This is just a little encouragement, however. Much of the familiar issues were there. Scoring droughts. Below average opponent TO%. Above average opponent eFG% percentage. Mid-game collapses.
There were some unfamiliar issues, as well. Anthony Davis went 9-23 from the field, just under 80% of his conversion rate coming into the week. In fact, searching for a transition point, we find that Davis shot 71-138 (51.4%) from the field up until the Pacers game on 12/22, about a week following his return from injury, as stress reaction that sidelined him for about four weeks. Starting with the Pacers game, Davis has shot 35-82 (42.7%) from the field, and shot at or above over his previous average just once (11-20, 55% against Toronto) in the seven games in that span. Also during that span, Davis was 6-13 (46.2%) from the line; he was 53-63 (84.1%) prior to the Pacers game. He’s gotten no more than 4 attempts in a single game in that span, averaging less than 2 attempts per game. This rate is less than 40% of what it was prior to the Pacers game, where he had nearly 5 attempts per game.
Then, Davis was limited to just 12m of action against the Mavericks despite ending the game with just 3 fouls. It itself, perhaps it was just an off night, he was dealing less effectively with Dirk, etc. With all of the above . . . something may be afoot.
Eric Gordon was 9-30 in his two games, and a solid portion of the positive portion of the performance was in overtime against the Mavericks. As welcome as that was, it is a sign that the explosion against the Bobcats was really more about the Bobcats than Gordon. In fact, the Hornets are 2-1 with Gordon this season, but the two wins are against teams winning less than 40% of their games. The loss was against the strongest opponent. While this makes sense to be the case, it may be an effect of common sense rather than some `winning edge’ that has suddenly appeared. Rather, there is likely at least something to be honed now, whereas there was no such thing before.
The Hornets parted ways with Dominic McGuire Friday. His contract would have become guaranteed if he remained on the team, and his presence would limit the Hornets’ flexibility to simultaneously take advantage of soon-to-be-available 10-day contracts and keep a roster spot open for trade purposes.
The team has lowered prices on club seats. In a season where attendance is weak, and with no sign of winning providing an impetus for fans to arrive in droves, lowering prices is a reasonable step. This also shows that ownership is willing to work to build the fan base. Recognizing that the price point for the prime tickets is lowered is a sign of active engagement that is positive, even if the attendance numbers in the short-term are not.
Around the Site
This week Jake showed everyone what Gordon can do for the team, even if he can not do it consistently yet. Mason made a case that may surprise some: he lobbied for Robin Lopez to be considered for the NBA’s Most Improved Player. Also, there were two podcasts this week. One discussed the return of Eric Gordon, and the other had guest Kevin Pelton on to discuss if Austin Rivers is having the worst performance in NBA history or not.
`Voices of the People’
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. — Chris W
I think Vasquez has the passion and is a hard worker, but he is a backup – a great backup, but still a backup – given that he is going up against starters this season, seeing the most minutes of his career, and with less talent around compared to last season, maybe he’s finding himself having to do more than he is capable at this point of his career (in Memphis he’s never seen real minutes)… Would he fare better coming off the bench next season, seeing about 20-25 minutes, with a healthy EJ and a real SF, a more mature AD?? My answer is yes, it wouldn’t expose that much his weaknesses.
I would also like to see him stop picking up the dribble and rotate in his pivot foot under pressure until someone desperately runs to hand him the ball back with 10 seconds left on the shot clock, as well as post up more his defender. He’s 6-6, and while he has below average lateral quickness against him on defense, he could be a matchup nightmare developing his post game and passing to the cutter off the post (can’t deny he’s a good passer, the numbers showed it in the post) — Rafa Brazil
Lopez’s offensive game is hilarious in that nearly everything he’s done this year doesn’t look like it should work, but it does. He’s developed a legit post game with a shockingly effective hook shot, a couple spin and up and under moves, he’s getting putbacks and hitting that almost-set shot to seventeen feet, he’s a pretty decent passer. I love how he’s reinvented himself as an offensive player and I’m totally fine with keeping him around as a piece for our future unless he can net us n equally attractive asset, which I find unlikely. Young capable 7 footers (and he’s been better than capable this year) are rarely on contracts like this. — biasvasospasm
The waiving of Dominic McGuire and the failure to immediately recall Darius Miller likely indicates that the team is going to rotate through 10-day contract players again this year. They have yet to extensively use the D-League in the other direction, as they are with Miller, assuming this continues.
I, for one, am thrilled by this. Purchasing a D-League team has advantages outside of any monetary considerations (plus or minus), as the team can be set up to run a system that will best aid the NBA parent team in terms of player development. Still, the D-League is there to be used by all, and attempting to take advantage of this resource is a great sign. This franchise continues to make moves on all fronts towards respectability.
It will take time, but these are the steps that have to be taken. The team is not there at this point, but this is necessary to get there. They should not be praised for doing what is necessary for them to succeed. The new, positive steps should be recognized, and that’s what this is.
It’s alright to be relieved, too. That’s also what this is.