The Hornets lost at the buzzer to the Wizards, in a dizzying back-and-forth to end a tight game. Lester Hudson shot a three off an inbound play over the outstretched arms of Kyle HInes to win it for the Wizards. The shot came immediately after Craig Brackins hit a huge three to give the Hornets the lead with 2.2 seconds left. Of course, this is Summer League, so the outcome matters less than the performances. Let's take a look:
The sub-headline is staggering: Maurice Ager was the best Hornet on the court. He consistently driving and finishing against the Wizards, and was able to make a dizzying array of shots near the hoop. He finished with 23 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists, looking for all the world like the best player the Hornets had on the court. His ability to get into the paint was rewarded - he shot 11 free throws, making 9. He simply looks like a completely different player from the person I saw last Friday.
Kyle Hines played out of his mind today, cleaning the glass as if he was three inches taller. He was the leading rebounder in a game that featured some legitimate big men, like JaVale McGee. He finished with 14 boards, 6 of which came on the offensive end. He was consistently carving out a good position in the paint, boxing out larger players time and again. On offense, he scored off the dribble, off a pick and pop, from a jump shot, and off his offensive rebounds. He made several excellent passes, earning three assists, good for second best on the Hornets. He was amazingly efficient, going 6 for 7 from the floor, scoring 8 points. He got fouled a lot, but only made 3 of his 8 free throws. On defense, he guarded a variety of players and was pretty effective, blocking two shots.
After the first quarter, Quincy Pondexter was charged with guarding John Wall, and he generally performed his task well. He showed good lateral quickness in guarding the extremely speedy Wall, who did most of his damage in transition rather than in the half-court set. On the offensive end, Pondexter started off well, but ended up cold. He finished with 16 points on 4-11 shooting, but he turned the ball over 7 times. He did a good portion of his damage from the free throw line, where he was 7-8. He made a couple of nice off-the-ball cuts to get to the rim and displayed his creativity off the dribble. He even picked up 5 rebounds, tied for second on the Hornets.
Craig Brackins is going to be a real question mark heading into the season. On offense, he is hanging out almost exclusively near the three-point line, asking for the ball. He occasionally sets a screen and then immediately pops and looks for a shot. I really expected him to be more of a post player, but the three-pointer appears to be his game at this point. On defense, he was pushed around pretty easily by JaVale McGee, a true post player who is bigger and more experienced than Brackins. He was efficient from the offensive end, going 4-7 from the floor and 3-4 from beyond the arc, finishing with 11 points and 5 rebounds.
The final player of note for the Hornets was Aubrey Coleman, who continues to light it up in limited time during Summer League. In only 13 minutes, he scored 15 points off 4 for 7 shooting. He even grabbed 4 rebounds, but turned the ball over twice. He really looks to score first, even shooting (and making) a three from four feet beyond the arc with plenty of time left on the shot clock.
The John Wall Extravaplosion was in full swing at the Cox Pavilion today, with the arena packed to the gills to see the number one pick in the draft play his best game of his professional career (thus far). He didn't really start off well, but he really found his rhythm in transition. On offense, he used his speed to blow past the sluggish Hornet defenders. On defense, he was always lurking around half-court, looking to pick the pocket of unsuspecting ball-handlers. The Hornets finally began to find a way to stop him in transition in the fourth quarter, and he was noticeably quieter once the Hornets began getting back in transition.
JaVale McGee dominated in the paint against a Hornets defense that lacked a stout post defender. He was pretty clearly a man among boys, making 13 of his 16 field goals, most of which were layups or dunks. The only hope the Hornets had was to deny entry, because once the ball was in the post, McGee almost always finished. He was even a terror in transition, throwing down a thunderous dunk over a helpless Kyle Hines.