Hornets can’t hang on and lose to Dallas

Published: February 22, 2013

The end of that game was crushing as the Hornets gave themselves every opportunity to win the game.

Hornets up four with 55 seconds less?  Still a loss.  Sigh.

In a theme for the year, the Hornets went with caution in the game and after Anthony Davis bumped knees and went back to the locker room, he did not return to the game, despite coming out and sitting on the bench and being available.  It was a bit of a shame because Davis was playing with energy and aggression out there – and was making a major difference.  Yeah, his shooting numbers don’t look great, but he was putting himself in great finishing position time and time again – and shots he usually made were rimming out – usually back into his own hands again.  Then – bumped knee, done for night.  Sigh.

Screw you, Vince Carter.

Besides Davis, the big story was Eric Gordon, who looked enormously explosive in the first half, looked less so in the second, and had some awful iso plays ran for him to close out the game that he wasn’t able to finish.  In case you haven’t seen me say it before – or heard it on the podcast – I hate, hate, hate, iso plays at the end of games.  If they aren’t great plays to run earlier in the game, then why are they at the end of games when defenses get more intense?  Every coach in the league does it – except two: Rick Carlisle and when he has a full compliment of players, Gregg Popovich.  Tonight, you’ll notice that even when his team was trying to burn clock with 23 seconds left in the third quarter, they didn’t just back out, stare dumbly at the clock, wait until there’s no time left, then try a quick pick and roll or iso.  No, they ran their play, turned down shots generated early in the shot clock, but kept moving, kept the Hornets shifting and moving to cover, and got a good shot.  I wish we could see a little more of that.

Screw you, Vince Carter.

Jason Smith was on fire – and his guys kept finding him.  He was only out there for 24 minutes but it felt like more.  He had a huge impact.

Other observations

  • Screw you, Vince Carter.
  • Robin Lopez played 18 minutes.  If Davis hadn’t hurt himself, he probably would have played less.  The Mavericks opened the game with a pick and roll on 5 of their first six plays – and they were all targeted at Robin Lopez’s inability to stick with quick players like Collison or the athletic Bernard James.  He couldn’t stop the play – and it was a problem.  Later, he re-entered the game, and the Mavs immediately ran three more pick and rolls at him.   He just couldn’t handle it and he was always out of position both as a defender and a rebounder.  The result, -18 in 16 minutes and zero rebounds.  Zero.
  • As always, Carlisle had a great game plan and as soon as Anderson checked in, he put a slower-footed forward on Vasquez, and put either (Screw you) Vince Carter or Mayo on Anderson to chase him.  It made Anderson’s life pretty hard until he started taking them inside and getting the ball.  He also started crashing the offensive glass.  Mayo couldn’t handle that at all, though Carter could.
  • Vasquez was taken out of the game offensively in two ways tonight.  Dallas negated his size by putting forwards on him, and his speed wasn’t enough to get him past the slower defenders.  When he did manage to catch Collison guarding him, he tried to post him up, and all four times his trips came up empty with forced shots or turnovers.  Sometimes doing something you don’t practice very often doesn’t help you, even if you have a mismatch.
  • Another rough shooting night for Austin Rivers, but he played well defensively and kept breaking down the first line of the Mavs defense with his dribble penetration.  If only he didn’t desperately rely on finishing with his right hand.

Next game is Sunday against Sacramento.  I’d really like a win, please.












  1. JJacob

    February 23, 2013 at 12:07 am

    I think it would be nice if Rivers abandon the largely ineffective floater he’s trying to develop and work on a midrange pull-up jumper. He’s constantly getting past his first defender, and it’s at the rim where he struggles. Developing a nice midranger like Westbrook has would really help his game.

    At the beginning of the game we were just blowing easy opportunities. There were two missed Vasquez runners off the backboard that he usually makes, a missed Aminu dunk, and Davis was literally just throwing it at the goal at one point and chasing his rebound.

    Oh, screw you, Vince Carter.

    • Jason Calmes

      February 23, 2013 at 11:52 am

      Oh, screw you, Vince Carter.

      I sent an unreprintable email that expressed similar sentiments.

  2. mateor

    February 23, 2013 at 12:33 am

    Ah…I see my ESPN box score was lying to me. I just made a big stink in then other thread about J.Smith taking so many shots. After reading your recap, I know more.

    The original box score immediately after the game had Smith in for only 10 minutes. I literally thought Monty had lost his mind, giving JSmith a usage rate of Kobe 2005. 24 minutes explains things a little better.

  3. NolaHog

    February 23, 2013 at 12:33 am

    That was an epic choke job by the Hornets. Gordon’s defender was mauling him on that final inbounds play, and it resulted in another no call plus a turnover.

    A truly sickening loss.

  4. NOEngineer

    February 23, 2013 at 12:45 am

    Vasquez’ play up one with about 40 seconds left is typical stupid basketball. Instead of getting off a shot within 10 seconds to preserve a final possession, he burned 16 seconds then trew up a brick that looked like he wasn’t even trying. His game tonight was out of control, listless, and passive.

    Smith and Anderson gave their all, while Gordon gave about 2/3 of a game (which may be his all). Shame for Vasquez to waste it….

    Rivers is getting much better.

    • Andrew Smith

      February 23, 2013 at 7:37 am

      Out of all people on this team Vasquez is one person that never half asses anything, he always give his al.

    • cmcmil1

      February 23, 2013 at 10:28 am

      Agree on that last Vasquez possession. Dumb play ending in a dumb shot.

      I think that the pendulum has swung too far on Vasquez. Early season criticism of Vasquez’ tendency to hold the ball too long, turn it over too often, and play miserable defense inspired a huge backlash. He seemed to get better for a while and now he’s hardly criticized at all, despite the fact that he still holds the ball for too long, turns it over too frequently, scores inefficiently many nights, and plays miserable defense.

      He tries hard, I won’t argue that, but I’m still really surprised by how many people really believe that Vasquez will prove to be an asset, rather than a limitation, as the Pels begin to contend.

  5. 504ever

    February 23, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Look where we are in the standings: 7th worst team in the league. The 6th worst team (Minn.) is three games ahead of us, a mile away the way we are playing. The four teams behind us are all within a 1.5 games of us, and we are tied with Sacramento. (We probably can’t finish better than 7th worse and could finish worse.)

    I am not suggesting we tank, but maybe a lose to Sacramento isn’t the worst thing that could happen.

    • Michael McNamara

      February 23, 2013 at 8:47 am

      I have found it is best to secretly root for this but not tell others. When you do bring up wanting to improve your draft position, all kinds of arguments about you not being a true fan or paying for tickets this year, etc. come up and people just get upset, even though it is clear you should want the best pick possible. I mean, one pick last year was the difference between Drummond and Rivers. So it does matter.

      But some people just don’t want to hear it, regardless of the empirical evidence that a top 5 pick is infinitely more valuable according to history than a pick 6-10. Just keep it to yourself. Shhhh…..

      • come on pelican

        February 23, 2013 at 9:38 am

        I won’t complain about a high draft pick, but this is a major transitional time for this team & it needs to do something to try to keep its deflated fan base (such as it is). I love Anthony Davis’ potential, but his rookie season has largely been a yawner. Rivers is a major question mark. And obviously the year of max-money EJ has been a head-scratcher at best. On the plus side, Ryan Anderson has been a great addition (though teams are learning how to defend him now), Aminu is showing some potential & Vasquez and Lopez have been pleasant surprises (though they are clearly not long-term pieces of the puzzle). As a Hornets season ticket holder since the inaugural 2002-03 season, I will think twice about becoming a Pelicans season ticket holder if this final team of bees doesn’t finish this season with some type of energy or enthusiasm. The current lineup clearly isn’t working, so what’s wrong with just trying a starting lineup of Jason Smith at center, AD23 at PF, Aminu at SF, Anderson at shooting guard and Gordon at the point? Please, Monty Williams. Anything (else) at this point is worth a try.

      • Michael McNamara

        February 23, 2013 at 10:34 am

        I would say there are two seperate things here that people sometimes confuse as one. There is:

        A) Playing Better

        B) Winning

        The Hornets could play much better over the course of the 2nd half and actually lose more. Conversely, they can play worse and win more. Half of the game is out of your control, since there is another team involved. You can control your effort, intensity, attention to detail, execution, etc. but the other team can be having “one of those nights” in either direction and the result changes.

        So, we are talking an ends vs. a means.

        I think we all agree that we want the Hornets to play better over these next 8 weeks or so, especially the guys who figure to be a part of our long term plans or guys whose trade value we would like to increase. But winning is another issue for me. I would personally prefer the Hornets play much better over these last 26 games with Gordon, Davis, Rivers, Vasquez, and Lopez playing well (in that order) but we just narrowly lose at the very end, thereby getting us a top 5 pick.

        If I could write the script, that’s how I would draw it up personally

      • Jason Calmes

        February 23, 2013 at 11:55 am

        Regardless of the analysis, no good can come from losing to Dallas.

  6. RBee

    February 23, 2013 at 9:13 am

    It is so hard to watch the bees with the ball, game on the line and less than 10 seconds on the clock. We are just awful. I know we must have an offensive coach in that big group on the bench, but seriously I only remember one game when we didn’t do something totally dumb. I miss Tim Floyd. It was a really bad season with him and bower, but Floyd always had some scheme with a short clock, or maybe it was having cp3 to run it……

    • 504ever

      February 23, 2013 at 11:59 am

      Who would you have run a play for and what would you have run? Who can create their shot on this team? Break down a defense? Eric Gordon, but he clearly tired as the game wore on. It’s not about coaching but about talent…. see my post above.

  7. ImSorryMonty

    February 23, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    That last play run that resulted in a TO was god awful at its finest. Having a guy that doesn’t normally inbound the ball that the whole Mavericks team knows we want to take the last shot? Brilliant! They knew people would be coming to the ball to hand it back off to Anderson and defended it well. To boot, Anderson showed his inbounds’ inexperience by forcing that ball in instead of calling 1 of our 2 remaining TO’s. Ugh.

    I think the whole finishing out close games has gotten into our guys’ heads. That’s the only logical theory I have for what seems more TO’s than shots taken with 90 seconds or less on the clock. Also, we just need to determine our primary ballhandler late. Instead of letting GV and EG fight over it and take turns screwing up, just give Eric Gordon the ball every time please and let him develop some consistency with the rest of our team closing games.

  8. Will

    February 23, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    I agree completely about end of game iso calls; I can’t be sure but I think I saw a video of Gerry V last year explaining how ineffective these plays are. It’s like prevent defense in football. If your game plan has worked all night, you’ve run great, complex plays that have resulted in open shots, why dumb it down at the end of the game and run the shot clock so low that you have to force a shot. Stupid play.

    I’d love for Rivers to get a start at PG. Unfortunately, I don’t see Monty doing this unless Vasquez gets hurt. I think his instincts, athleticism, frame, and handles suit him being the primary ball handler; it pains me to see him (and Anderson) stand in a corner while Roberts does his thing. All he’s doing is accumulating empty minutes. He’s made plenty of nice passes to Mr. Mid-range, Jason Smith, and if he’s going to improve and be a big part of our future, he has to start getting more minutes with our other long-term pieces.

  9. thouse

    February 23, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    “Vasquez was taken out of the game offensively in two ways tonight. Dallas negated his size by putting forwards on him, and his speed wasn’t enough to get him past the slower defenders. When he did manage to catch Collison guarding him, he tried to post him up, and all four times his trips came up empty with forced shots or turnovers. Sometimes doing something you don’t practice very often doesn’t help you, even if you have a mismatch.”

    Great observation. Smart teams will start defending him this way, just as smart teams have started defending Anderson with SFs.

    Vasquez is a plus player, but he is still limited in many areas. A 7 game playoff series v a smart coach would expose him a la Bowen on Peja in 08.

  10. GerryV

    February 24, 2013 at 9:29 am

    First of all I was stunned to see the ball in the hands of Vasquez for one of the most critical plays of the game ( horrible three ball attempt) Gordon should have had it from the start of that play.

    – The lack of speed from Vasquez during open floor situations denied the Hornets scoring chances.
    – The robotic like efforts required to run a half court offense vs Dallas.

    My earlier in the year comments about upgrading the point guard position are now LOCKED IN GRANITE…there is nobody on the planet that has the skill or the ability to talk me off my perch as I scream to the masses ” The position must be improved!”

    Sitting close to the floor only further validated my observations as i closely watched every moment…observing the advancement of the ball…open lanes not taken advantage off due to lack of ball quicks….scoring stiuations that were denied because of the lack of “escape game”

    Your honor i have no further comments!…I rest my case.

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