Stars Disappear in Toronto as Hornets Fall to Raptors

Published: February 10, 2013

This summer the Hornets handed Eric Gordon, the centerpiece of the Chris Paul trade 58 million dollars and took Anthony Davis with the #1 overall pick, hoping that those two would provide the franchise with a championship foundation. Tonight, those two couldn’t even help the Hornets stay competitive¬†with the woeful Raptors. Combined, Davis and Gordon went 3 for 13 and scored just 8 points while turning the ball over 7 times (six by Gordon). The result was a 102-89 loss in Toronto, bringing the Hornets to 1-1 on their current road trip.

Lesser ballyhooed summer acquisitions Ryan Anderson, Austin Rivers, Brian Roberts, and Robin Lopez (along with Greivis Vasquez) kept the Hornets in it most of the game until Toronto started pulling away midway through the 4th. Toronto put small forwards on Anderson all game, so he responded by taking the smaller guys into the post, scoring 15 points on 10 shots, hitting just one three-pointer on the night. Lopez and Vasquez led the Hornets in scoring, with 19 and 17 respectively, while Rivers and Roberts provided a spark off the bench in the second quarter, and finished with 22 points on just 13 shots.

In the end, however, it was a familiar story as turnovers and poor defense plagued the Hornets in the second half. The team finished with 17 turnovers, 9 coming from their starting guards and those turnovers resulted in 17 Raptors points, including 16 fast break points. And at the end, it was their weak perimeter defense that led to little known backup John Lucas III catching fire, going off for 19 points on just 11 shots (5-5 from deep) to bust the game wide open. In the end, the loss was a team effort, but you can’t help but wonder if the results would have been different had the stars shined bright in Toronto.

Notes and Observations

– Can we call this the best game of 2013 for Austin Rivers? He seems to have regained some of his confidence and he was attacking for the majority of his time on the floor tonight. He also had some great kickout passes that should have resulted in three or four assists, but the bigs couldn’t knock them down. And his defense was fantastic in stretches, as it has been for several weeks now. He still has a long, long way to go, but if he can put together more nights like tonight, it will be something to build on going into next year.

– Jason Smith was great tonight in his limited minutes. It would have been nice to see him get on the floor more, but so it goes when 4 out of your top 6 guys can only play the four or the five. Smith was a +10 on the night while Davis was a -12 and Lopez was a -22. Eventually, one of these guys has to get moved to help in the backcourt or the perimeter.

– Vasquez was solid again tonight, but Lowry simply plays at a different level. He is an aggressive defender and a guy who can create by actually blowing by people and making help defenders commit. Just two weeks ago, Monty called Vasquez out as a guy who might score 25 but gives up 40. That’s a little drastic, but when you watch a guard like Lowry, you see the kind of player Monty would prefer.

– Al-Farouq Aminu… You know what? I have said enough over the course of this season. You fill in the rest.

– Hornets are at Detroit tomorrow night, then return home for two games before the All-Star break. Trade deadline is just 11 days away. It should be an interesting couple of weeks.


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