The Hornets lost. And they lost the same way they always lose - by playing diabolically poor offense.
In an 89 possession game, they turned over 17 times (almost 20% of possessions), missed all 9 of their threes, and shot just 41% from the field.
They played great defense, they rebounded, they hustled... but these are the new Hornets. None of these things matter as much as the fact that exactly one player on this team can consistently create his own shot, and, unfortunately, that player happens to be both the point guard and incapable of running a cohesive offense.
Jarrett Jack is a capable enough basketball player. He's, in the absence of Gordon and Ariza('s defense), our best basketball player. But tonight, in the first quarter, he set up more plays for Portland than for New Orleans, via his extremely sloppy backcourt handle. The Hornets got absolutely trampled in transition, even as the Blazer half-court offense stalled, and that starts and ends with Jarrett Jack. Without Jack's 21 points (on just 13 shots), this is a blowout. But it doesn't change the fact that point guard probably isn't Jack's best position (it's questionable whether he has a real position at all) and, at multiple points in this game, it showed. It's why I'd like to see Monty Williams continue to go to Greivis Vasquez/Jarrett Jack lineups, as he has in the past two games, allowing Jack to play off the ball and Vasquez more responsibility for creative duties.
Moving on from the wild turnovers, it's pretty clear the DaJuan Summers Starting experiment should be terminated as soon as possible (assuming we're not tanking, 13 games into the season, of course. Which wouldn't be the worst thing ever). Carl Landry is hilariously better at offense, and even Chris Kaman, with his strong defensive rebounding numbers, is the better option alongside Emeka Okafor. And speaking of Okafor, there's a case for him to receive more offensive possessions. He finished 4 of 5, scoring on a couple nifty back-to-basket moves, and Emeka Okafor post-ups are a decidedly better option than Summers' step back jumpers, Aminu step back jumpers, Landry step back jumpers, Belinelli step back jumpers, Kaman step back jumpers... just please stop shooting step back jumpers, y'all.
And then, of course, there was Gustavo Ayon. 8 points on 5 shots. Superb defensive awareness, solid lateral quickness. Two blocked shots. Two steals. Two assists. One turnover, which came as the immediate result of him grabbing a tough offensive rebound. This guy was a steal, and we have him signed (for about $1.5M a year) through the 2014-2015 season. As awful as this season is and will continue to be, guys like Ayon are making it vaguely watchable.