Imagine the reaction if Gordon, the player, had gone off and had to be restrained by an assistant coach from going after Williams, the coach. Then, suspension of the player for sure and everyone commenting about how a player must learn to control his anger and maintain composure. NO has mishandled the Gordon situation almost from day one. Now, they have no choice other than to trade Gordon and try to get value in return. Good luck with that. Gordon for Granger and toss in a few more players and you have a deal. That's about as good as it will get. If they plan to deal Gordon and I think they will, why on earth would you denigrate the player? You want to get top value in return and you're only hurting the franchise by 'leaking' negative information about Gordon. It's as if Williams and Demps are not up to their jobs. NO lacks an NBA veteran executive, someone like a Donny Walsh with the Pacers, to provide leadership and direction at the very top.
Hornets Bench a No-Show as Jazz Pull Away in the 4th
A familiar pattern reared its ugly head tonight as the Hornets starting lineup got the team out to a nice lead at the end of one quarter before the bench came in and absolutely killed all the momentum. The Hornets haven’t won a road game since the All-Star break, and the bench is as much to blame as anyone. Tonight they went a combined 2-25, including a horrendous 0-10 performance from Ryan Anderson and an 0-5 stink bomb from Xavier Henry, who is being given a 28th chance for some reason. Thanks in large part to the bench, the Hornets were outscored by 19 points after the first quarter as the Jazz won 95-83.
It wasn’t all bad for the Hornets, however, as Anthony Davis and Greivis Vasquez both had terrific games. Davis played with great energy two nights after his worst game in nearly two months and finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Vasquez, meanwhile, dominated his matchup, scoring 21 points on 9-13 shooting and dished out 9 assists to go with 5 rebounds. Aminu played well in the first quarter and Lopez had some moments in the 4th, but outside of that, it was a pretty sad night for the rest of the Hornets roster.
Long term, perhaps the biggest news coming out of this game might end up being the blowup between Monty Williams and Eric Gordon. I was at the game and the confrontation was loud and very animated. Monty charged at Gordon and just absolutely blew up at him after pulling him off the court in the third quarter. The exchange started off with Monty saying something in a fairly calm voice to Gordon, but then Gordon said something back as he was walking past Monty and Monty just went absolutely insane. After that exchange, Gordon sat at the end of the bench and did not return to the game.
Other Notes and Observations
– Lou Amundson is sure making a case for a roster spot next year. He isn’t flashy by any means and the stat sheet doesn’t show 20% of what he gives to the team on the floor, but trust me, he is a very solid backup big. He is a smart defender with good length and he gives solid effort every minute that he is out there. Picked up two huge charges tonight – one on Milsap and the other on Favors. I wouldn’t be upset at all if he was brought back next season.
– Davis is better at showing on the pick and roll before getting back to his man than any player I have ever seen in a Hornets uniform. He is so long and active that he can push the guard four or five feet beyond the three-point line and then get back to his man a second after the pass is made. In al league that is becoming more pick and roll than post-up on the offensive end, that skill will be invaluable.
– Anderson’s shot was just off tonight. Utah didn’t really do anything special. Just a bad shooting night. Shooters go through slumps. Anderson is in one right now.
– Al-Farouq Aminu had back-to-back possessions that just reminded me why I honestly don’t care if he is gone next season. On the first one he got the ball kicked out to him in the right corner, drove to the hole and put up some kind of weird floater/push shot hybrid that missed by a mile. On the next possession, the ball was kicked to him on the other side of the floor and he pump faked before traveling. Best of luck to you moving forward Al-Farouq, you won’t be missed by this writer.
– The Hornets took so many shots at the end of the shot clock tonight, and that just isn’t going to lead to good offense. They have to get into their sets earlier and move the ball better to be a consistently good offensive team.
– Robin Lopez’s hook shot is even uglier than his jumper, but who cares if it is going through the net, right?
– Demarre Carroll is my wife’s favorite player, and she didn’t miss the opportunity to tell me that he completely changed the game in the second quarter. The guy is non-stop energy and hustle, with a solid skill set. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and he doesn’t figure to be a guy that will demand a lot of money. I really like Darius Miller, but I would gladly move on from Miller if Carroll signed on to become our backup small forward.
– The Gordon/Davis pick and pop is really nice. Looking forward to seeing those two developing that even more next season if Gordon is still here. More on that in a minute.
– If you listened to the podcast, you know that I called a big game for Vasquez. These are the exact type of teams he flourishes against. It’s fools gold in my opinion, but hopefully some other GM believes that fool’s gold is real.
– Although Gordon had his moments, I just don’t know what he is doing with his dribble sometimes. He just puts his head down and clumsily tries to weave through defenders with no luck. An easy steal and dunk off a Gordon turnover for Hayward in the third quarter was a result of one of these all too frequent moments.
– And in the biggest Eric Gordon news of the game, he and Monty had a pretty loud exchange in the third quarter. Monty was absolutely furious and channeled his inner Mike Rice, Jr. I will ask Monty what he said and why, but I expect a typical Monty no answer. From my viewpoint, it looked like Monty is just fed up with Gordon’s lackadaisical attitude and he just burst after Gordon talked back to him. Has probably been building up for a while. Can you blame him?
– Big win for Toronto tonight over Minnesota, as far as we are concerned. Toronto’s schedule is nothing but playoff teams down the stretch, so they could very easily lose out. Not only would that have made it possible for the Hornets to catch them, but this is big because OKC has Toronto’s pick. If we are ever going to catch them, we need them to whiff on this pick, so the further back the better. A Sacramento win over Dallas would be huge too, basically guaranteeing we finish no worse than six most ping pong balls, so check out that game after you read this recap.
– Tomorrow’s Missing Piece article will focus solely on the point guard position and the 8 guys I see as the most likely options for us to bring in. I worked all week on it and there is some very interesting stuff in there that I didn’t know prior to my research, so check it out and let me know who your favorites are.
I still think the bigger point here isn't Gordon. (We all knew the Gordon decision, match or not, was a close call: 45/55, 50/50, 55/45. And that is the way it is still playing out. If Gordon finishes the season playing well, this will all be forgotten.) The bigger point, from tonight and other nights, is we don't have the talent to compete with a playoff contender because of our weak bench. Add a new starter or two (hopefully this off-season)and knock a current starter or two to the 2nd team and we could be a playoff contender. But right now we aren't a middle of the pack team. We are a bottom 25% team. And it takes a lot to make the jump from bottom 25% to middle of the pack. Let's hope we do it this off-season!
I've officially reached a tipping point with Eric Gordon. I no longer want him on this team, I no longer want him around our young players. I understand the nature of competitive sports, sometimes people get into it in the heat of the moment and it doesn't mean anything, but has Eric Gordon shown that he cares enough about winning with this team to be giving attitude to coach Monty? Absolutely not. Whether Eric Gordon is going to produce $15M worth of value in a box score is one thing, but there's a whole other issue with this guy that goes beyond on-court production (something he's provided us with very little of this season). We're a young team with developing prospects still learning about the game. Our max-money players need to be leaders both on the court and in the locker room, Gordon is neither. I don't think I've ever posted a negative comment about Gordon on this site before, but eventually a line has to be drawn in the sand with this guy. I wish him all the best with his next team, but there's just no way that a guy with all these risks and question marks will be sticking around the club beyond this season. I'd rather GIVE his starting SG spot to Austin Rivers - a kid who hasn't shown anywhere near the same level of talent as EJ, but works his ass off, respects his coaches and teammates and is excited about being here. Austin Rivers was always going to be insurance for Eric Gordon, hopefully we cash in on that real soon.
Zach Lowe has a great relationship with Monty and has posted interviews with him on several occasions.(I believe Monty was his first foray into the interviewer/reporter role he has transitioned to opposed to a blogger back at The Point Forward.) And in his last visit to NO, he just straight dropped it that Dell and Monty are 'not enamored' of Gordon. I don't believe that he would so casually drop that if it wasn't common knowledge or okay to let it become so. I couldn't find the link, sorry. I also looked for their first interview, back in the SI blog, but all those stories are gone from under the Point Forward aegis, at least. There were some quotes about Bellinelli that simply had to be seen to be believed.
Hopefully, Del, Monty, Mickey Loomis, and Mr. Benson see the writing on the wall, cut their losses, chalk the Eric Gordon max contract up as a mistake, and find a way to get rid of him. The bad news from him far outweighs the good. He's a lightning rod for negativity. He may indicate that it's everybody else's fault, and maybe even that everything is fine, but anybody with a brain can look at his demeanor, and see that he has a poor attitude, and doesn't want to be here. I don't know what his problem is, but the Hornets/Pelicans shouldn't make his problems theirs. He needs to be as far away from our team and our young guys as possible, and the only contact he should have with them is as an opponent.
It seemed that in the third quarter, Vasquez could throw the ball at the basket and it would somehow go in. His lob passes were spot on as well and he even hit Lopez on one of them; I'm not against making tough decisions to help us long term but I'm on board with Greivis being a big bench contributor if he isn't involved in a bigger move. I think I'm finally at the point where I definitely want Gordon gone. I've given him some leeway and tried to keep in mind that I don't know the whole story. Being relatively introverted myself, I thought that his disinterested responses in interviews might just be uneasiness in the spotlight. The reported argument with Monty piled upon his already troubled tenure here have pretty much cemented my opinion of Gordon. I don't like his attitude and frankly, he hasn't even been that high "caliber" of a player this season.