Well, that went poorly. The Hornets looked out of sync offensively and were absolutely putrid on defense. The only bright spot was that the game was in the preseason. But the problems it exposed might carry on into the regular season. Take the jump, but remember – this hurts me more than it will hurt you.
Here's Yahoo's boxscore:
First, the highlights:
- Chris Paul was reasonably efficient (10 assists, 2 turnovers, 3-7 shooting). He looked healthy and quick and spry, all things we'll need Chris to be if the season is to go well. His passing was crisp and sharp, taking Aaron Gray by surprise on a couple of occasions.
- Peja was fantastic off the bench, by far the best Hornets shooter of the day. He seemed a bit quicker than I remembered him last year and was one of the few Hornets who knew how to play proper pick-and-roll defense.
- DJ Strawberry played well in garbage time, getting to the hoop quickly and drawing fouls. He looks like one of the best athletes the Hornets have. Maybe he could learn to play defense.
- Aaron Gray, though a rather poor basketball player, appears to have lost a ton of weight. Rohan and I arbitrarily guess 50 lbs, but the point is that the rumors of his offseason training appear to be true. He's still slow, plodding, and inept, but he appears to be significantly less so after losing the weight. And the guy can still rebound at fantastic rates.
And now, sadly, for the massive amount of lowlights:
- The Hornets defense was positively atrocious. The Magic had a staggering 80% EFG percentage in the game. It wasn't that the Magic were particularly on fire shooting, it's just that they had a plethora of wide-open shots. The Hornets' defensive rotations were poor, help defense was either indecisive or lacking, and pick and roll defense was comically bad. These are team problems in desperate need of attention before the season starts on October 27th.
- Trevor Ariza was as bad in this game as he was good in the Hornets' first preseason game. His shot selection was poor, and even his open shots weren't particularly close to going in. He had serious ball handling issues, and he was staggeringly poor on defense. Ariza looked like he had no clue how to deal with a pick-and-roll.
- Marco Belinelli, similarly, had a terrible game after an excellent first game. Ariza might have been actively poor, but Belinelli just seemed like a non-factor on offense. On the defensive end, Belinelli had problems sticking with his man, and had even worse problems than Ariza in defending the pick-and-roll. I'm concerned that the Hornets spent the offseason adding players that can't play defense to an already sieve-like team.
- Joe Alexander was absolute garbage. I have no idea why has played over 15 minutes in each of the first two games. His line from his first two games: 33 Min, 2 pts, 6 reb, 1 turnover. He's not particularly good on defense, either. He basically just takes up space on the court. Oh, and he had three of his shots blocked today.
- Marcus Thornton had another dreadful game. I'm still presuming he'll be back to being awesome when the season rolls around.
- Willie Green was really, really bad. But hopefully the fact that he played less than 10 minutes means that he'll be used sparingly throughout the season.
That's all I'm willing to say about this game. Give me reasons to back down from the ledge in the comments.