The Hornets' 62 point performance on Wednesday night was an epic showing of offensive futility. The franchise's previous record-low for points in a regular season game was 65, once by the team in a December 2000 game against the Heat (which the Charlotte Hornets won 65-56 shockingly) and again in March 2003 in a loss to the Celtics. This performance stirred echoes of a more recent offensive catastrophe, the dreadful 63 point showing in the Game 4 drubbing we took against Denver in the West quarters in 2009.
While this game wasn't a total blowout, it was a reminder of how bad an offensive team the Hornets can be without any playmakers or players capable of creating offense on their own. Let's take a loser look at this loss.
While both teams were without their "star" player, New Orleans was without both of its young shooting guards (Monty Williams sat Austin Rivers tonight as a precaution because of a sprained index finger on his left/non-shooting hand in practice) and its starting power forward. Darius Miller got the start at SG opposite a surprisingly effective Evan Turner who tied for the Sixers' team lead in scoring (an almost as depressing as our top scorer 14 spot) while actually shooting the ball well.
Ryan Anderson started in place of the injured Anthony Davis and the Hornets' sixth man struggled with his shot going 3-for-10 from the field for only 9 points in 34 minutes, including a sad 1-of-6 from downtown.
Al Farouq Aminu was the closest thing to a player of the game for New Orleans, though nobody deserves much credit after a team performance like this one. His 10 points (the only Hornet in double figures mind you) and 16 rebounds were the only two things to applaud on the stat sheet. But Chief got his 10 points on 11 shots (making only 3) and wasn't as sharp on the break or in the half court as we've seen him. Credit Philly's defense for giving Aminu and Greivis Vasquez problems (we'll get to him in a sec) and making the Hornets take more jumpers than a team with only two above-average shooters (Anderson and Mason, who only took 2 shots) should take.
Greivis Vasquez reverted back to his preseason form, going 3-of-13 from the floor on top of 5 turnovers and aside from a good start to the 1st quarter never seemed to get the offense in rhythm. As the esteemed Hubie Brown pointed out during the broadcast when Vasquez was the primary ballhandler and set up the offense from the top of the key the Hornets offense had a least a semblance of organization/rhyme and reason to it.
But as the game went on their was a lot of guys like Aminu and Miller and Xavier Henry dribbling around and trying to force the issue, which none of those guys are particularly good at. It would've helped Vasquez's numbers/cause if his teammates would've moved better and hit the open looks they did get (like they had in the previous regular season games) but every team will have cold shooting nights like this on occasion. It just helps to have a guy (ie Gordon, Eric) who can take over a game for stretches and keep your team afloat offensively when facing a tough defensive opponent such as the Sixers.
Robin Lopez also had a rough night (aside from his 4 blocks), took some bad jumpers dropped some passes on the pick and roll and did not exploit the height advantage he had over Philly's Lavoy Allen, whose been starting at center while Andrew Bynum is out. Meanwhile Spencer Hawes came off the bench for Doug Collins and gave his team a nice spark with 11 points and 6 rebounds, something that Lopez should have been able to accomplish in such a low scoring/half-court battle.
The thing that stood out most to me though was how inept the backup backcourt of Brian Roberts and Henry looked out there. A lot of people praised Roberts for his play in the preseason (and rightfully so) but this isn't the summer league or other guys fighting for a roster spot, which was the majority of the competition he faced.
Roberts forced up a lot of shots (granted there weren't many options on offense for the Hornets' second unit) and if he truly wants to be a backup point guard in this league capable of playing chunks of minutes for stretched he can't turn the ball over, he can't shoot contested long twos early in the shot clock and he has to be patient and set up the offense to get guys involved.
Henry just seems lost on the basketball court, a guy who possesses good athleticism and decent handles but just seems to run into guys and force awkward layups (a la Aminu when he plays outside of his comfort zone, but minus the rebounding and defense) when he tries to create his shot. Bottom line: I don't want to see either of those guys out there unless we're down 3 or 4 rotation guys like we were tonight.
Unlike the 1st three games of the season, this game was not a fun one to watch, for many of the aforementioned reasons stated in this recap. It sucks that this was our showing in the 1st of our few chances to play in the national spotlight this season. Again having Rivers (yes people, Rivers would've been a big help to this team tonight, that is truth) and Davis would've helped tremendously and perhaps made that game semi-enjoyable to watch.
Next up are the Bobcats on Friday night in New Orleans; Charlotte will be without Gerald Henderson who is out a month with a foot injury, while Rivers should be back and Davis may be a gametime decision (fingers-crossed), though if Jason Smith's concussion hold-out is any indication the team may take more time getting him back out there than we'd like. Either way lets hope Friday's game is more bearable for both teams to watch. And if Davis is back out there, we get to enjoy his first matchup with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a battle of the top 2 picks from this June's draft.