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Hornets Blow 22 Point Lead, Extend Losing Streak to 11

Published: December 22, 2012

With 57 seconds left in the second quarter, Robin Lopez’s dunk gave the Hornets a 46-24 lead. It looked like it was all but certain that the ten-game losing streak would be snapped, the only question was how much the Hornets would win by on this final game before Christmas. By the end of the third quarter the game was tied, and when the final buzzer sounded the streak had been extended to 11. Gone was the team that played gritty defense throughout the first half, and in its place was that old Hornets team that misses rotations and reaches with their hands rather than moving their feet. Gone was the team that took care of the ball on offense. They had five turnovers in the entire first half and they matched that number in the first seven minutes of the second half.

It’s an all too familiar story for a team that has been abysmal at home in the third quarter this year. They came out flat once again, scoring a season-low seven points, going 3-16 in the quarter, including 1-8 outside the paint. Meanwhile, the Pacers lived in the paint during that crucial quarter, going 8-10 inside over those twelve minutes. After a disappointing first half, David West took his game to another level and punished the Hornets. It was a heartbreaking loss, that was in some ways similar and other ways different from the last time these two met. On both occassions the Hornets appeared to have the game clearly in their grasp, only to allow mental mistakes and poor execution to be their undoing.

It appeared that we would get the gift of a Hornets victory this holiday season. Instead, we look in our stocking and all we find is coal.

Notes and Observations:

– Robin Lopez was fantastic tonight, and in his matchups with Roy Hibbert and Ian Mahinmi, he looks swift and agile. If he got to play Indiana more often, he would be an All-Star. In the two meeting this year, he has 45 points, 24 rebounds, and 10 blocks.

– Anthony Davis was up and down all game. He had some spectacular plays on the offensive end, but his jumper was off and he got push around on the baseline when he tried to operate down there. We can try to dissect his issues and try to overthink it, but it is actually quite simple; he just needs to put on weight. Not much you can do when you are banging in the paint with guys who have 30-60 pounds on you, most of it muscle.

– Vasquez dominated the ball down the stretch and probably took too many shots, but in all reality, what were his options? The Pacers suck down on the roll guys in the P&R and they kept a man on Anderson at all times. Rivers took one shot late and it missed badly. This is Eric Gordon time, plain and simple. If Vasquez assumes that role in the final 5 minutes, you are going to lose far more games than you win. They had David West, we had Vasquez, it’s that simple.

– In the Game Preview, I told you how important Roy Hibbert is to the Pacers and how getting him into foul trouble would be a key to victory. With 6:35 left in the first quarter, Austin Rivers took the ball strong to the rack and got hammered by Hibbert, resulting in his second foul of the game. The Pacers were forced to sit Hibbert as a result. When he went to the bench, the Pacers were down 4. When he returned 10 minutes later, they trailed by 13 and the Hornets had all the momentum. Plays like this barely show up in the box score, but they completely change games. Unfortunately the Hornets stopped attacking the paing (and/or the refs swallowed their whistle) and the game swung back in the Pacers favor.

– Lance Thomas is not a small forward by any stretch of the imagination, but he gives the Hornets the best chance to win at the position because he is so solid on the defensive end. His rotations are fantastic and so is his man to man defense. He was able to stay in front of Paul George most of the night and when he got caught on David West during a rotation, he held his ground and played him perfectly. Great job by Thomas tonight on the defensive end. Let’s hope he can add something he can rely on while on offense.

– Speaking of guys doing a good job on David West, Ryan Anderson really battled him for every minute he was out there early on. West was 2-9 in the first half, in large part because Ryno pushed him off of his favorite spots. Then in the second half, the Hornets ran Anthony Davis at West almost exclusively and he destroyed us. Can’t say I understand that rationale.

– Wanna see that sweet Anthony Davis reverse jam again? Here you go

– How about that Lopez steal and breakaway dunk? Here it is

– Our own Mason Ginsberg got to talk with Dell a little before the game and there were some nuggets in there. First of all, Eric Gordon has been cleared for full contact. Secondly, Anthony Davis is still growing people! Dell said he has grown half an inch since the summer and an MRI showed he still has room for growth. He could easily become a legit 7-footer. Finally, we tried to ask Dell about the buyout for Matt Carroll but he politely sidestepped the question. Two out of three ain’t bad!

– Confession: I started writing this recap at halftime. The original title was- ‘Hornets Snap Losing Streak, Crush Pacers’ . Maybe I am a jinx. My bad.

– Hornets don’t play again until December 26th. With the loss tonight, they now have the second worst record in the NBA and the January schedule is brutal. It might get worse before it gets better.


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