Hornets 97, Wizards 89: Washington Drops 25th Straight Away

Jason Smith showed up to play, and while the final score didn't necessarily indicate it, New Orleans won comfortably.

New Orleans returned to its tried and test formula- slow pace and tough defense- to snap a two game skid. While Jason Smith's offense was what stood out most about this game, the Hornet D held the usually offensively inept Wizards to 89 points on 89 possessions. Jason Smith did do a poor job on the defensive glass, but the Hornets did a great job as a team, collecting 80% of all Washington misses (above the Hornet season average of 77%). 

Overall, this game certainly was not a true test of New Orleans' front court depth. Javale McGee played just 18 minutes, Andray Blatche had his way in general, and neither Yi nor Rashard Lewis were huge post threats to begin with. It'll be interesting to see if Monty Williams uses Jason Smith primarily at center tomorrow against OKC. Luckily, Aaron Gray proved tonight that he can handle some minutes in the role.

Despite struggling somewhat on the defensive end, Gray did a great job on both the offensive (3) and defensive (5) glass in his 15 minutes. I'm very much in favor of the Gray/Mbenga time split option, and it will be interesting to see if Monty Williams goes to it tomorrow. Gray, Andersen, and Mbenga combining for 8 points and 10 boards off the bench played a nice role in the win tonight.

Bullets:

  • Tonight's game by Marcus Thornton exemplifies the follies of relying on traditional statistics (in this case, FG%). Thornton went an awful 1-7 (14%), but taking into account his multiple trips to the line, his true shooting percentage finished at 40.7%. Keep in mind, that's pretty horrible in and of itself though.
  • It appears Marco Belinelli may have been the subject of Monty Williams' comments following the Suns loss. Beli missed all his shots and played just 13 minutes.
  • Willie Green continued his efficient offensive stretch. Though I thought his defense was terrible (burned repeatedly, fouled way too frequently), he continued to shoot shots in rhythm and from his more efficient spots on the floor.
  • David West (5 defensive rebounds in 35 minutes) was unremarkable, and we'll need the return of vintage DX if we're to win on the road against the Thunder.
  • Jarrett Jack didn't shoot well, but that 5 assist against 1 turnover line isn't too shabby.
  • I need to dedicate one bullet to the awful play of Rashard Lewis. Sure, it was probably tough for him to go from a perennial championship contender to a perennial doormat, but still. His effort level just seemed ludicrously low to me tonight; when a player commits almost as many fouls (6) as points and rebounds combined (7), you know it's bad.
Finally, John Wall was held to a 2-10, 3 turnover night by Chris Paul. I know some have been down on Wall's play, especially relative to pre-season predictions. So I thought I'd close out this recap with some historical perspective on Wall:

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Honestly? Wall is doing just fine. He's creating for teammates far more than Rose, Williams, or Westbrook did as rookies, and while his offense has been inefficient, his numbers are eerily similar to rookie Westbrook. He's obviously got a ways to go, but his failure to jump immediately into superstardom (a la Blake Griffin) isn't something I'd put too much stock in.

Will he become the next Chris Paul, though? That's another question entirely. And of course, it gives me an entirely gratuitous reason to dust off Chris Paul's rookie season numbers in comparison to these guys:

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That's just.. yeah. Best of luck, John. 

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