Losing Streak snapped in Orlando

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Published: December 26, 2012

The Hornets break their 11-game losing streak in a hard fought game that featured career highs in points from Vasquez and near career highs from Robin Lopez

I’m happy we watched a win.  Vasquez and Lopez deserve paeans of joy, as their offensive efforts kept the Hornets in this thing all game long.

Vasquez had some beautiful drives down the edge of the paint that he finished with floaters and his patented no-jump layups high off the glass.  He helped out mightily on the glass and put down two huge free throws to seal the game.

Lopez was an offensive monster, scoring over Vucevic, handling the double teams that ran at him, showing soft hand catching and finishing around the rim, while coldly drilling free throw after free throw as the Magic started fouling freely to try and stop him.  I honestly can’t remember when we last had a guy who can score in the post like Lopez can.   Elden Campbell?  Give him the right matchup and a team determined not to double, and Lopez will provide excellent complimentary scoring.

That all said, I shudder at the defensive end of the court when Vasquez-Lopez is trying to defend a pick and roll.  The Magic discovered this by the third, and ran a steady diet of Nelson-Vucevic/Ayon pick and rolls at the two of them and the results were downright embarrassing.  Neither of the two defenders could even stay with Nelson, and the Hornets kept having the underbelly of their defense exposed for easy layups or kick outs.  It was really, really bad.  Monty had to adjust and play Ryan Anderson less minutes because only Davis had the length and speed to be able to come over to help on those pick and rolls in any way.

At one point I actually caught myself saying “Yes!” at the screen when a switch happened and Anthony Davis was left on an island defending Nelson rather than Vasquez.  In essence, I was cheering a mediocre chance of stopping Jameer over what I was getting from his normal defender.

Monty was pulling every tool out of his coaching book tonight to close that win.  In an illustration of how one-sided some of our players are, he was doing 3-man offense-defense substitutions at the end of the game.   That’s right, more than half of our team either sucks at offense or defense.  Ugh.  He also yanked Rivers early in the first half and cycled Mason and McGuire in to try to find someone interested in guarding the perimeter.  The Magic had drilled 7 threes in the first half, and exactly one of those makes had been contested.    The communication between Rivers, Vasquez and Thomas was downright abysmal during that stretch, and though I have a hard time figuring out which one was missing their rotations, it seemed like Rivers was the primary issue.

In the end, however, the Hornets fought for everything, Lopez and Vasquez couldn’t be stopped, and they pulled out a win.  Good to see.

  • Austin Rivers was +16 for the game despite the fact that once again he couldn’t hit a shot.  He did, however, make a difference out there, as during a stretch in the third it was his drives to the basket that kept the Hornets in the game.  Even when he missed his shots, he kept drawing multiple defenders and various Hornets kept flying through those open lanes to clean up the garbage.
  • Ryan Anderson had a tough game getting free of Afflalo, who probably had to pick some of Ryan’s armpit hair out of his teeth he was tracking so tightly.  Still, Ryan did make the most of the crossmatches he created and despite having another bad game from deep, finished with 15 points on 11 shots.  He just kept working.
  • Davis is starting to show his talent on the glass and his potential to be a Chandler-like finisher of the pick and roll.  His length continues to amaze defensively and he’s starting to get a feel of how to get his blocks.  He can already have a pretty big impact on things – but how I wish he’d stop trying to be a small forward.  I don’t care if your name is Kevin Durant, taking lots of 20-foot shots is bad shot selection.  And Davis is not Durant.  Cut down on the long jumpers.
  • McGuire competes as hard as anyone I’ve seen out there and is a good defender.  He’s got to learn to be tight in that corner for his long jumpers, though.  He hit all three of his shots tonight and all of them were fired a step or two inside the three point line.  If he can master the three-and-D he’ll stick in the league.
  • Robin Lopez has 3 rebounds.  He confuses me so much.  How do you manage only three rebounds, but get three blocks – one of them a vital one during crunch time?  Isn’t it harder to time a single block than to stumble into three rebounds during a game.

Smith and Gordon are coming back soon.  If the Hornets can snatch another two wins this week, they could build some real momentum.  Right?  Right!?

Next game is at home against Toronto.  Go Pelinets!

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