Well, pardon the pun, but this one stung. The only other game so far this season that made me this angry when heading for the exits was the loss to Golden State in early January. The worst part was that the first half was one of the best 24-minute periods this team has put together all season, and that team was simply nowhere to be found in the second half. The team that spent the entire first half using its size advantage and attacking the paint decided to stop utilizing that edge and start chucking up long jumpshots. The end result was the evaporation of a 55-40 halftime lead and a brutal 91-89 loss that is still difficult to stomach. My frustrated thoughts about the game are after the jump.
- Can somebody please explain to me why we split the duties of guarding Kevin Martin between Green, Belinelli, and Jack? K-Mart and Budinger are both 6’7″, so why not have your best on-ball defender (Ariza by a mile) guard the Rockets’ best player and then take your chances on a guy who only moved into the starting lineup because the team dumped Battier? I don’t understand it. Trevor guarded Martin in short stretches, but the Hornets usually ended up defending him with their guards. The result was 33 points on 15 shots, including 13 free throws, all of which he made. Speechless.
- Speaking of Green, Belinelli, and Jack… why does Monty treat his 2-guard rotation different now that Thornton is gone? Whenever MT5 got a hot hand, he stuck with him. So now that he’s gone and we get a different shooting guard on a hot streak, you’re going to keep him out of the game? Belinelli shot 6-8 overall including both of his 3-point attempts in 15 minutes of game time, only 5 of which coming in the second half. Green has been great since he became the starter, but if he’s having an off-night and his backup is playing great (on both sides of the ball, no less), why not stick with him?
- Very questionable decision-making by Monty Williams tonight, and I’m not just talking about his playing time rotation (Jason Smith over Aaron Gray at backup center? Why?). Can someone explain to me why he didn’t call one of the team’s THREE remaining timeouts when it was Hornets’ ball down by 1 and 45 seconds remaining? Instead, New Orleans had a terrible offensive possession with no real play called, resulting in a Trevor Ariza 3-point airball (surprise!). The Hornets have made their success this season being a slow-paced team which makes its living offensively by sound execution of its half-court offense, so call a timeout, set up a play, and execute! Even if it doesn’t result in points, it would have given them a much better look than the one they got.
- I don’t care how atrocious the man is defensively, but after watching this game, anyone who thinks that Jason Kapono wouldn’t be a good addition to this team is out of his or her mind. When the Hornets are down by three with 15 seconds left, who are they going to turn to? I realize in this situation tonight, the team opted for a quick two and couldn’t get it, but there will be situations when the Hornets absolutely NEED a three. What do they do? No one on that roster scares me from behind the arc. CP3 can make them, but he gets most of his triples when defenders are respecting his game off the dribble, so he can’t be considered a primary option to hit a contested three. Belinelli is really our best bet currently, but he wasn’t even on the floor for that situation tonight (Monty, why wasn’t he on the floor?). Bring in Kapono, or if he’s not the answer, just find SOMEONE who can knock down a three in a crunch time situation.
- You guys are probably tired of listening to me vent, so I’m going to politely ignore the atrocious shooting night from the Hornets’ point guard position. New Orleans did have a couple of bright spots, mainly at the power forward position. In addition to completely shutting down Luis Scola, David West and Carl Landry combined to make 15 of their 25 shots for a total of 35 points. Landry had some much needed points in the second half when the offense was struggling to get good looks; in a 6-minute span (3 minutes left in the 3rd quarter through 3 minutes into the 4th quarter), Landry scored 9 of his 13 points. Inside of the 3-point line, Ariza and Green shot just fine; I’m starting to think that Andrew’s shock collar idea for Ariza’s 3-point attempts may have to be used for Green as well. Okafor was once again all over the boards (14 rebounds in total). So in sum, there were a few good things to take away from this game, but not enough to overcome Houston’s hot 3-point shooting and get a win.
- For more thoughts on the game, be sure to check out Rohan’s take on At The Hive.
NEXT GAME: The Hornets begin their Mardi Gras road trip in Canada on Tuesday against the Toronto Raptors at 6 PM central time. The Bees play five straight road games during parade season, not returning home until the day after Mardi Gras for a date with the division rival Dallas Mavericks. Hopefully the team can come out of the trip with a winning record in those five games and get back here for a big division game. Be sure to catch your Hornets on Cox Sports Television throughout most of the road trip, and ESPN for the game against Cleveland if you don’t feel like going to Bacchus. Geaux Hornets!