Rockets 90, Hornets 88: "If turnovers were worth points, we’d win every game"

So said RyanCaz in the game thread, and so it was.

A late effort from njennings wins the day!

It was a hard fought game, a remarkable comeback effort, and ultimately, almost a winning effort. But, like most every game this season, it was not.

Lots of blame to go around, but lots of praise too. Let's start with the two instances where the Hornets had clear chances to put the game away. The first came after Jarrett Jack drew a late trip to the line and had a chance to put New Orleans up one. Of course, he failed to come through, and it's easy to blame him for that. The fact remains though that "clutch" is far more a function of luck than any innate ability to either star in late game situations or choke. Jack missed, and it will rightly weigh on him in the aftermath of defeat. But the team wouldn't have even been in that situation without his ability to get to the line.

The second came about halfway through overtime, with the Hornets up six and in full possession of game momentum. Their downfall? Offensive play calling. The team ran a series of awkward looking picks with a front court of Chris Kaman and Jason Smith (itself a poor decision, given Emeka Okafor's moderate early game back-to-basket success and the fact that Kaman was playing rather inefficiently), but instead of running plays to get Jason Smith jump shots, they called for multiple Kaman lane dives. When Kaman wasn't diving, Houston simply let him hover around, something they could have ill-afforded to do had pick and rolls been run with Jason Smith. The offense proceeded to fall apart, and a couple of transition and semi-transition plays from Houston put them right back into the game.

Some further notes after the jump.

- A rough overall line from Jack - 6 for 15 (15 points), 3 turnovers, and his relative inability to create for teammates really stood out tonight more than it has in recent games. This is simply one of the realities of the 2011-2012 Hornets; without Eric Gordon (who isn't exactly a dynamic creator of shots for teammates himself), New Orleans lacks starting quality, well-rounded play-makers. Greivis Vasquez had 4 assists off the bench, making the late game Belinelli lineups a bit of a surprise.

- As MZURK pointed out in the game thread, Al-Farouq Aminu had this sequence in the second quarter:

11:05

Al-Farouq Aminu misses a layup

11:05

Al-Farouq Aminu offensive rebound

11:08

Al-Farouq Aminu misses a layup

11:08

Al-Farouq Aminu offensive rebound

11:10

Al-Farouq Aminu misses a layup

11:11

Al-Farouq Aminu offensive rebound

11:13

Al-Farouq Aminu misses a layup

11:13

Al-Farouq Aminu offensive rebound

He actually had a couple decent offensive and defensive plays, but that series encapsulates him as a player right now.

- Early on, we got more signs that the "new" Trevor Ariza could be here to stay. He passed up a couple long jump shot opportunities (smartly setting up an Emeka Okafor dunk in one case), but he clearly faded down the stretch. By the time overtime rolled around, he was completely invisible on the offensive end. His final line (10 points on 9 shots, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal) wasn't terrible though, and I'm interested to see if the new Trevor Ariza continues to supersede the previous, chucking iteration.

- 2 minutes for Gustavo Ayon. This does not make any sense, and your guess is as good as mine.

- The Hornets had another really poor shooting performance from range, hitting just 3 for 11 threes. Both their percentages and volume have dipped drastically this year. It's clearly another thing Eric Gordon will help immensely with, but this is ugly to watch right now.

- I definitely liked Monty Williams' decision to go for the win at the end of the OT. The play itself seemed to be muddied up by Houston on the inbounds, and Belinelli did well to get off as clean a look as he was eventually able to.

- Only 13 turnovers in a 97 possession game for the Hornets. Definite progress. With free throws, two pointers, fouls, and rebounds essentially even, it was the long ball that ultimately cost the Hornets the win.

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