Poor First Half Dooms Hornets, Leads to 101-97 Loss To the Nets

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Published: February 26, 2013
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For the first 24 minutes of the game I was incredibly disappointed. The Hornets looked like zombies on the court. Defensively, the Hornets kept leaving wide open shooters, letting the Nets shoot an incredible 75% from 3-point range and a robust 62.2% overall.

On the offensive end the Hornets took 6 more shots than the Nets but made 6 less. The off ball movement was stagnant; the court spacing a mess on certain possessions; and settling for jump shots. Unfortunately the Hornets are not a good jump shooting team. When they tried to manufacture higher quality looks by driving the finishing was incredibly poor, they most likely had them blocked or just missed. Which leads me to say that those shots weren’t of much high quality.

And the Nets led 57-41 at the break.

Then the second half started and you could see the team doing everything Monty wanted. The Hornets fought incredibly hard and with about 8 minutes left in the third the off ball movement looked quicker. The Hornets started shooting better as a result from creating better looks. Vasquez and Lopez carried the team with a strong contribution from Smith. The Hornets closed the gap to 4 with 5 minutes left in the game. But unfortunately it was not enough and after a handful of clutch shots by Anderson late, the Hornets ultimately fell 101-97.

 

Observations

-I don’t normally like to do this but I have to point it out: The officiating was atrocious.

-The Hornets have to have the worst defensive backcourt in the league. Vasquez was beaten on multiple assignments and has trouble fighting through screens. Gordon has the speed to keep up with most players but is caught out of position very often. Roberts is Roberts and Mason is Mason. The bright spot tonight was Rivers in this area. His on ball defense was great tonight.

-I’m very happy to see some offense out of Rivers tonight. You can tell he starting to put things together.

-I like to think I’m a smart individual but I have almost zero idea what Monty is trying to do on defense. The team packs the paint but gives up offensive rebounds. There were a few possessions where Monty let his guy defend 1 on 1 and then only had help come over if they were close to the ball. Not surprisingly these were the most effective defensive possessions. Defenders were able to help if needed but still be in position to rotate over if a pass was made. I don’t know why we see this so rarely.

-You could say the result of the game was secondary after Davis left in the 2nd half with a arm/shoulder injury but it’s important that the Hornets learn to play without Davis for stretches. As we’ve seen with the Gordon situation, it’s not good if the Hornets really that heavily on one player for their success.

-Speaking of Gordon, he had a horrible night. He’s cut his turnovers down recently and is assisting more (6 tonight) but he shot 5 of 14 on the night for 10 points and struggled on defense. When can we stop using injuries as an excuse for his poor play. He’s obviously made the team better since his return this season but if you added anyone with significant talent onto the team they obviously would have improved. I’ve been very patient and one of Gordon’s biggest defenders but I think I’m at the breaking point with him. Honestly, I feel as if we overrated the type of player he is.

-Aminu had a quiet game if you go by the box score but I love what he’s been bringing to the team for a few months now. His rebounding has been excellent and defensively his long arms are making it tough for opposing players to make the passes they want and often forcing them to look for someone else. I’m all for keeping him next season and using him a defensive specialist off the bench–that is if the price is right.

-I’ve had enough of the Lopez brother stuff so I’m not talking about that tonight.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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37 comments
Basketbol
Basketbol

"You move GV to bring in a guy that will fit in behind Anderson squarely and for the duration or if some other deal makes him redundant, thus more valuable in trade. I do not see bringing in a marginal talent upgrade as an upgrade in total. Why reinvent the wheel with another average PG that also won't be surrounded by superstars? Lots of the heat he gets from Hornets fans is absolutely fueled by the fact that he replaced a guy who was the best PG of his generation and is now on one of the most visible teams in basketball. And the fact that the guy they got for him is trash. Vasquez is good enough and cheap enough, even if we extend him, that the upgrade we could get by replacing him is fairly insignificant compared to upgrading at other positions like the 3 or 5. That's not even going into the argument that you don't need an elite point to win a title but, instead, elite talent (and deep bench)at the 2 and 5."

GerryV
GerryV

Losers Lament " The refs beat us!"..Oh please! In the 1st half there were burn marks on Hornets defenders!......Hornets gave up offensive rebounds becuase they failed to contain the Nets off the cut or the dribble ..( BIGS have to come up the lane to help and this exposes the baseline) simple answer. Nets were quicker in the 1st half...Basketball talent was obvious....Nets proceeded to drop their alertness and focus and allowed the Hornets back in the game. WHAM! Nets struck early and fast!

CarnbY
CarnbY

All true, can still share the blame with the refs though. If the game actually mattered I'd be pretty furious...

Will
Will

My lack of faith in Eric Gordon going forward is becoming much more based on his mediocre play than his injuries. Since the break, Vasquez had been getting shut down and game planned against well. I still like him, but there really isn't any more doubt that he isn't the starter on our contending team. If he doesn't command a high paying contract, I would like a second unit based around Vasquez and a starter minute playing Ryan Anderson. And those refs blew.

ktrufant
ktrufant

I often don't understand the perception of winning basketball I hear from some fans. I hope it helps New Orleans retain his services but wanting an improving, top five SF still a few years off his prime (wp48) to come of the bench if the price is right sounds absurd to me. Yay points indeed.

Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith

Why would you take Aminu over Paul George, Harrison Barnes,‘Melo, Deng, Gallinari, Batum, Iguodala, Danny Green, Evan Turner, Alanzo Gee, or Chandler Parsons?

ktrufant
ktrufant

Aminu is younger and/or has better defense than all of those guys. (and some of them are overrated). I'll take Aminu's production and potential over any of the younger guys, his youth over the age and his defense over all of the other guys' offense. I don't understand how people get so fascinated with scoring sometimes that defense is so undervalued as to be a role for a bench player. Aminu, like lots of other underrated guys in the league, is a starting line-up cornerstone for winning basketball with his defense. And his scoring is pretty efficient (which is the important part of scoring). All of it is improving. It would be a mistake to let guys like that walk or underplay them ...

UptownFuz504
UptownFuz504

I don't feel that Aminu will ever be top 5 but I do feel that some of the names being trown out there as replacements are marginal or lateral at best. Guys like Brewer, Evans, and Buddinger give you better shooting % from deep but worse everything else. I think you develop what we have unless we get a head and shoulders better guy. I'm of the opinion that if Aminu can shoot ft's, he can shoot a jumper with practice. Ball handling is a completely different story. Aminu should also get more post looks.

Justinho
Justinho

Am I to assume this comment is directed towards attitudes about Aminu and that you view him as a top 5 small forward in a couple of seasons? I like the guy and anything is possible I suppose but it's quite a leap from "good potential with one elite skill" to "top 5 SF in a few years". Who, out of the following players do you view Aminu as being better than in two years time? Lebron, Durant, P George, 'Melo, Deng, D Gallinari, Gay, Kidd-Gilchrest, H Barnes, Batum, Iguodala, Danny Green, Chandler Parsons. He might be better than some of them, sure, but top 5? And that doesn't even take into account everyone else's "has potential if he realizes it" guys and future draft picks.

ktrufant
ktrufant

Nah, you're right. I was stretching with top 5. Plus I was only talking about this season to this point. Even still, I would put him top 10 top 15. Of course I don't really count Durant and LBJ. Those guys transcend the position in how well they do what they do. Anyway I will say that yes, I think Aminu is contributing more than almost all of those guys right now. I would take Aminu over all of them excluding LBJ, Durant, Leonard (not on you list) and Kidd-Gilchrist. I think that potentially those five guys (barring guys not in the league yet) will be the top SFs playing with Kidd-Gilchrist an Leonard setting the standard, LBJ and Durant are elite basketball players and Aminu being underrated because he doesn't score (or 'create' ) like the rest. My main point though is that defense is very very underrated while scoring points is very VERY overrated when evaluating how good or valuable a player is. Aminu is very very good defensively. Overall better than most at his position and he is still young and improving. Plus he is smart and mostly efficient on offense. I won't say he's in LBJ/Durant/Kidd-Gilchrist range but he is definitely in Leonard/Igoudala territory.

Bigeauz
Bigeauz

First game I've been able to go to all season. Was really bummed that the officials were calling the way they did, totally agree with that point. Re: Gordon. I think he plays to get the foul too often. Sometimes he can adjust if he's not getting the calls he wants and start trying to actually score, but tonight he didn't really do that. At least he's stopped throwing fastball passes to Aminu's ankles. Personally, I think he's half speed the rest of the season knowing he already went up on the trade block once, and will likely be back there again this summer. At least the guys made a game of it at the end. And kudos to the organization in general. Since I don't get to actually go to a lot of games I forget about how much work goes into each game.

Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith

This is also why I agree with McNamara when he says EJ isn't a great or elite closer, I think it's much tougher for a player that relies on attacking and drawing fouls to close when the refs officiate a game like this or swallow their whistles, the best closers I think can iso and create offense without hoping the ref sees a foul or not and are usually great jump shooters (Kobe, KD, Melo) it pains me when late in the game we Iso with EJ who always goes to that stepback jumper if he's going to pull up or tries to get a foul that the refs wont call. Then again you have your D Wade's and Paul Pierce's of the NBA but Ej isn't at that level.

come on pelican
come on pelican

There seems to be a strong sentiment that many of us would like three of our starters (Vasquez, Lopez, Aminu) a lot better if they were coming off the bench.

Basketbol
Basketbol

...gimme LeBron, and CP3, and Dwight Howard...and...

Basketbol
Basketbol

This was directed to Michael McNamara February 27, 2013 at 11:02 am comment

504ever
504ever

Well I would like a house on the Florida Gulf Coast. Liking and getting are two different things. How are we going to upgrade three starting positions? We aren't! So we have to prioritize. To me SF is the biggest need. Aminu is an athletic PF playing SF. Look at his strengths: rebounding, long armed defense, running the floor on the break (if he he doesn't get the rebound). He can't create his own offense or shoot well outside of dunks. Imagine if we had a SF who could score more consistently. Maybe we wouldn't be behind in so many games if we had a more well rounded starting SF. (And yes I would resign Aminu to a Jason Smith type contract. He is a valuable piece for this team.) We can acquire a more offensive SF at a reasonably price this off season. Under the new cap rules, you have about $10-12M to spend for starters and 2nd teamers at each of the 5 positions on the court without getting penalized, and the Hornets/Pelicans will never get penalized. So you can't over spend in free agency and build a team. And what assets do you have to acquire better players at PG and C? Vasquez, Lopez, a future draft pick, and the ability to take back a high salary player. But if you spend them all for a PG what do you have to get a C? Or visa versa. So....Welcome to Dell's world! And don't forget player development can help both Vasquez and Lopez improve.

Basketbol
Basketbol

"Vasquez is good enough and cheap enough, even if we extend him, that the upgrade we could get by replacing him is fairly insignificant compared to upgrading at other positions like the 3 or 5."

504ever
504ever

Below are what the Hornet's stats for WS/48 and PER look like. I still prefer PER as a better approximation of the relative value of the Hornets' players based on what I see on the court. For example, I don't see Gordon as the 2nd worst player on this team, or Roberts as better than Vasquez. The first four players are the same in both, with only a slightly different order. They are all bigs. Lopez is second in both, in spite of some fan and writer disapproval. Aminu ties Vasquez in WS/48 only, which would tend to mean Michael and I are both equally right or wrong, depending on your point of view on these players and on the value of WS/48. (I still say we need help at SF most.) Anderson .152 (1) 19.4 (3) Lopez .151 (2) 20.1 (2) Davis .145 (3) 20.4 (1) Smith .099 (4) 16.8 (4) Roberts .091 (5) 15.8 (6) Vasquez .074 (6) 16.6 (5) Aminu .074 (6) 13.8 (8) Mason .070 (8) 10.7 (9) Thomas .059 (9) 8.1 (10) Miller .044 (10) 6.1 (12) Gordon .021 (11) 14.5 (7) Henry .018 (12) 8.1 (10) Rivers -.045 (13) 5.3 (13) http://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/NOH/2013.html

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

So . . . Gordon does very little well but score and try to score. PER rewards shot attempts, per Hollinger. WS/48 does not. Vasquez does one other thing well: pass. Roberts sees an easier time in his minutes, so that may be why he sees a little bump.

come on pelican
come on pelican

Sorry to have touched such a raw nerve, but here is my concern: AD23 is clearly the future of the Pelicans. But it looks to me like his rookie contract expires at the end of the season in the spring of 2015. He will shortly become exposed to and tend to become infected with CP3 disease (i.e. wanting to play with his buddies in the big city). We can't afford another wholesale rebuilding year next year that is similar to this year. We need continuity. To me, it would be acceptable to keep Aminu as the starting SF, and it also would be great from a leadership perspective (I was very impressed with Lopez as a leader while listening to him mic'ed by Fox Sports on last night's broadcast) to keep Vasquez & Lopez as backups. Any chance we should/can make that happen?

504ever
504ever

Michael, I would say I am more value oriented. I see PER as the closest objective way to value players, especially players at different positions. (It may have an offensive bias, but I don't see a better objective option.) The value orientation also comes out in player contacts, especially when they are paid well below their level of performance. I would also say I am long term oriented. This reinforces the desire to have reasonable contracts. I foresee the Hornets/Pelicans having cap space for a while and not just to sign Davis way down the road. I foresee a closer moment when other teams unload good players to avoid cap taxes and the Hornets can pick up a high quality player with that cap space. I think this is more likely to happen when the Hornets/Pelicans are a player, or perhaps, two away from reaching the Western Conference Finals. We are not that team now. Currently 'bench Player' Ryan Anderson is our best player, although Davis should be our best player in a year or two. After Anderson and Davis, Vasquez and Lopez are currently our next best players! It is what it is. But I want to have that cap space for the day we need it. I don't think we need to be an Offensive or Defensive team. I'd like us to be flexible enough to be both. So we can have players who are stronger defensively, like Aminu, and players who are stronger offensively. They can be on the court at the same time to balance each other out, or be played in offensive or defensive teams. But to get back to the main point. Aminu draws zero defenders when he is on the perimeter (cause he can't shoot, or dribble effectively in traffic). So you have two choices: put him on the perimeter and play offense 4 on 5, or limit your offensive sets to those in which your SF is down low. Both are a problem. When you add a SF who is just an average scorer, you change both of those things. That to me is the biggest upgrade you can make and, as a bonus, it makes the team more versatile.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

If push came to shove and I could only have one time-normalized summary statistic today . . . WS/48. Try it, let me know what you think.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

I think the reason this keeps happening is because it is clear we value different things and would build a team totally differently if we were GM's. I value defense way more than offense, some could argue too much. I would build a team similar to the late 80's Pistons if I were a GM. Guards who can create for themselves and others and a ton of bigs who arent highly skilled offensively, but do all the little and nasty things. Basically, I would take Reggie Evans over Robin Lopez 100 out of 100 times. Meanwhile, you seem to point to PER quite a bit, leading me to believe you value offense over defense. You see Vasquez and Lopez as guys who play well above their contracts offensively, which is accurate. But, per my philosophy, that means little to nothing to me. I see them as horrible defenders who will score 20, but give up 33 to a struggling Deron Williams, thereby negating any positive offensive impact. Give me Bledsoe, Otto Porter, and Pekovic, and subtract Lopez and Vasquez and I won't have the most exciting offensive team, but I will hound teams all day defensively. That's just how I would put a team together- with defense in mind 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.

UptownFuz504
UptownFuz504

Mr McNamara, I rarely agree with your take but this time sir, you are spot on. The absolute biggest need on this team is PG. At the end of the day, Aminu can get with a shot doctor to improve his shot but foot speed and court vision cannot be taught.

504ever
504ever

Michael, This is shocking. We disagree!

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

I agree with your premise that not every position can receive a major upgrade, but disagree that SF is the priority. PG makes everyone on the court better, and while I would probably agree with the argument that Vasquez is better than Aminu, I think that upgrading Vasquez improves Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson, even Eric Gordon. Conversely, if you turned Aminu into say someone like Luol Deng, I dont know how that makes the game any easier for anyone else on the offensive end. As for player development helping Vasquez and Lopez, I think that is very wishful thinking. No amount of coaching is going to help either of those guys become even average defenders. Yes, maybe they can each become 5% better offensively, but they will always be bad on the defensive end, Lopez always bad on the defensive glass, etc

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

I'm not sure how the 14-15 record since Gordon's return, 11-11 with him, could lead anyone to believe that the team has the starters it needs.

WhoDatPelican96
WhoDatPelican96

I think what people miss is vasquez's lack of court vision. It bothers me. Because he racks up garbage assists by driving to the basket looking for his own shot, and if he can't get it, dishes it out to first guy he sees. Normally Lopez in a bad position, davis at the top of the key, or aminu with seconds left on the shot clock. I want a real PG. Whether we get it through the draft or through a trade, I want a real PG. Vasquez does not, nor will he ever, have the ability to lead this team to a championship.

WhoDatPelican96
WhoDatPelican96

He can try as hard as he wants. He is meant to be a backup on a title contender. I appreciate his efforts this season, but going forward with him after this season could kill the progress on our rebuild

WhoDatPelican96
WhoDatPelican96

Add that on to his lack of speed, on ball defense, poor passing and decision making on fast breaks, and you've got yourself a player who just isn't helping this team.

mojart
mojart

regarding to vasquez...i think he is trying to hard on the court...can't blame him...D-WILL is torching him the entire game.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

I try to play guitar. People should treat me like I'm Eddie Van Halen?

mojart
mojart

Poor 1st Half... but the team don't give up until the final buzzer sounds...hope AD is ok.... with the way rivers is playing....i think right now we don't need a bledsoe in this team...we have a on ball defender in the making in austin rivers that would pest PG and SG of other teams...his defense is improving overtime....now time to practice those jumpshot kid and we will be ok now and in the future....future looks bright

Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith

Ant should be ok, he was cleared to come back into the game but Monty didn't want to chance it.

Snow
Snow

The WHOLE game, the refs were calling everything one way! It was ridiculous, I haven't seen that poorly officiated game in a while, but you can't blame everything on the refs when the defense was playing terrible in the first half (especially first quarter). I was going to say the same thing for Aminu, even though offensively he wasn't there, he was hustling like crazy. He and Rivers (who is improving like you said) need to shoot ALL off season and get their shots down. I look at Aminu as a Sefalosha (however you spell it) but without a shot. Both play pretty good D. When we can play all four quarters relatively well, we will be amazing. Our future is bright!