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A Week of Collapse
When the air that we breathe becomes air that we choke
When the marsh fever spreads from the swamps to our homes
When your home on the range has been torn down and paved and
The buffalo roam to a slaughterhouse grave
What more will it take
For us to know
This is not a test, oh no
This is cardiac arrest
Of a world too proud to admit our mistakes
Kissing the ground as we all fall from grace
– Rise Against, Collapse
An 0-3 week for the New Orleans Hornets brings them to 21-42 on the season, putting them firmly in the hunt for the third worst record in the NBA. Getting worse than that will require additional effort of one kind by the Hornets or of another by Orlando or Charlotte.
In the first collapse of the week, the Hornets lost to the Magic after building a 17-point lead partway through the third quarter, being outscored by 20 points in the final 20:02 of the game. This level of play, of course, projects to a 48 point loss if maintained through the length of a game, which is approximately what occurred against the Thunder recently. Zooming in to finer detail, the story gets worse. The Magic actually erased the 17-point lead in 5:34 via a 22-5 run. During this run, the Hornets went 3 of 6 from the line and went 1 of 5 from the field, sinking only a 15-footer from Davis while missing all four shots of at least 21 feet, all. All the attempts were by backcourt players. Toss in two turnovers and the fact that they missed a shot after the tie, and this is really a horrible story. Nothing about this was pretty, not the shot selection, not the lack of penetration, not defense on the other end. The 22 points Orlando scored breaks down as 2 three-pointers, 7 two-pointers, and 2 free throws (and-ones). 20 of the points were from Nelson, Afflalo, and Harkless. These players’ two-pointer were all from 2 feet, excepting a seven-footer from Afflalo. The perimeter defense and offense, specifically penetration on both sides, was at the root of the debacle.
In the second collapse of the week, the Hornets lost to the Lakers after building a 25-point lead near the end of the second quarter, being outscored by 31 points in the final 26:13 of the game. This level of play, of course, projects to a 57 point loss if maintained through the length of a game, which is approximately what occurred against the Nuggets too-recently. Zooming in to finer detail, the story gets worse. The Lakers actually eroded the 25-point lead to 12 with 7:04 left in the game, then a Lopez bucket stretched the lead to 14 with 6:47 left to play. The Lakers then wen’t on a 20-0 run to close the game. This is utter devastation on and off the court. Want to guess how it happened? 3 three-pointers, 3 two-pointers, and 3 free throws, with a lone 7-footer being the lone two-pointer shot beyond 2 feet. All the field goals were made by Meeks and Bryant (Bryant made the two’s); Dwight contributed a lone free throw to the 20-0 run. Meanwhile, the Hornets committed 5 turnovers (one was a shot clock violation), missed 12 shots, and got no free throw attempts. Gordon missed 5, Lopez missed 3, Vasquez missed 3, and Anderson missed 1. Prior to that in the fourth quarter, Lopez went 1 of 3, Anderson went 2 of 2 (1 three made), Aminu went 1 of 2, Vasquez went 0 of 3, and Mason went 0 of 1. The team committed a single turnover in the that span. Gordon was on the bench. So the guards and wings went 1 of 14 in the entire fourth, meanwhile the Lakers guards scored 28 points; Dwight added 3.
The third collapse of the week was one of a different sort. After keeping the game within 10 for the first half and tying the game early in the third against the superior Grizzlies, the Grizzlies went on a 16-3 run over the course of 5:01 on the way to an 11-point loss. This is not as dramatic as losing a large lead only to lose a close game, but the effect is the same. The Hornets were just unable to build a large lead initially due to the superior nature of the foe. During the run, Aminu was the only Hornet who scored, going 1 of 2 for 3 points (making his and-one). Lopez, Vasquez, and Gordon each went 0 of 1, Davis went 0 of 2, and the team committed 3 turnovers. For the Grizzlies, 6 points game from Ed Davis while the other 10 came from Guards and Wings, all field goals coming from within 1 ft except a 7-footer from Davis and a three-pointer.
Variations on a theme.
Austin Rivers broke a bone in his hand in the first quarter against the Lakers. He went on to play the remainder of the half, and play well. He did not return in the second half and has been placed on the inactive list. He may miss the rest of the season.
The Hornets signed guard Terrel Harris to a 10-day contract in response to this injury. The 25-year-old played for years at Oklahoma State University where he won a Big 12 defensive award, but went undrafted. He played in France, Germany, and the D-League before playing with the Heat for 29 games over the past 2 seasons. He was waived on January 5th, returning to the D-League.
Harris saw light minutes when the team was down by double-digits against Memphis.
Around the Site
Going with the theme of the first podcast, Mason looks at lottery projections (look for this to be updates as the season goes on). Mike’s Missing Piece article of the week takes cues from the Sloan Conference to target players to acquire via free agency, trade, and the draft.
`Voices’ of the People
I’m not sad. I learned a lot watching the game. I think we have a core than can develop into something special. Some points I think were highlighted in the game.
1) GV is better than I’ve given him credit for. He’s a B not a C.
2) Austin Rivers could develop into a solid rotational player given time
3) EG is a talent but not a leader. Sadly we dont have a starter who is a both a leader and has the talent and credibility to assume the mantle so EG will continue to try to assume a role he can not currently suitably make.
I think that if you can get shut out over 5+ min you are not getting value out of a max contract.
After sleeping on it, I’m a little calmer. Monty says he didn’t put AD on Dwight to spare his shoulder more wear and tear. In the long run, I can get behind that. But he has to see that RoLo isn’t the answer for us. If he’s starting for us again next year then we’ve got some big issues. This is supposed to be Lopez’s role/matchup on the team. He doesn’t stretch anything, he’s supposed to be the banger and paint protector, which he just didn’t do. Len just got much more attractive looking to me tonight. Just an awful night though. Went from the game of the year (maybe tied with the Clippers game) to the lowest point of the season. Ugh.
I remain very skeptical that success includes Davis and Anderson together on the floor for long stretches, unless one of them works over the summer to get some new skill sets.
We all like rebounds, right? Defense? That is a really rough assignment for the kid at his weight.
Ryan has shown zero inclination he is ready to man the three. He is a proto stretch four, one of the most valuable things you can have. Sliding him into a slasher role would be another toughie.
One such lineup I would be interested to see would be an extreme small ball with the two of them and maybe Aminu at the three. But that requires fast guards to get down the court and help/recover on defense and we don’t have any of those. Not really Monty’s style anyway.
It isn’t that I don’t,t think that front line can be done…but not with these pieces around them.
This was all largely hashed out in the notes above, but the guard play on the team is just not what it needs to be. Perimeter player were scoring at the rim in all the critical moments of those games, an there’s only one way that happens that often: The perimeter defense is horrendous. Simple, eh?
When those players lack a scoring punch, it compounds the issue. Vasquez scored 44 points on 44 shots this week. Gordon didn’t fare much better scoring 46 points on 44 shots. Aminu had a good week of scoring and his defense is ok, but 2 out of 3 is bad in this case.
Something has to change.
I was looking back at articles from last season and before this season. What happened to the name of this piece being called "Ice Cream Sundae"? Also, I noticed that last year the site posted articles when we signed guys to 10-day contracts. I don't recall if y'all did when we signed Sims, but we didn't when we got Harris. Any reason for that? Other than that, thanks for the great work.