At last! It took a video game effort from Robin Lopez against one of the league's worse teams, but the Hornets finally snapped their losing streak.
It was another decent defensive effort (certainly not "good," but close to league average), and the Hornets, who finally relinquished their last-place defensive efficiency mark to the Charlotte Bobcats over the weekend, continue to make a strong push towards 28th! And I'll even admit that that sentence started in a place of sarcasm but finishes in mild earnestness; not having to watch the team giftwrap points on a possession to possession basis is an excellent thing.
That's not to say that the problems of old have all disappeared. But I'm starting to feel increasingly comfortable with where the Lopez/Anthony Davis duo could be headed defensively in the future. If you've got a minute, check out the shot chart here (http://scores.espn.go.com/nba/shotchart?gameId=400278132) and specifically watch how the the paint defense improves through the game. In the fourth quarter it was excellent, even if the back-breaking allowance of offensive rebounds continued.
On the defensive glass, Davis continues to be great, but as I'm sick of pointing out at this stage, nobody else on this team (that isn't in Monty Williams' doghouse) can defensively rebound. Greivis Vasquez finished with 5 defensive boards, second on the team. I feel bad dogging Robin Lopez on a night where he scored 27 points on 10 shots (easily one of the most efficient lines in modern times) but his lack of defensive rebounding is legitimately alarming at this point. It has to be.
- Lance Thomas started, played 22 minutes, and finished with 0 points and 2 rebounds. /throws hands up
- Just a terrific night for Greivis. Aggressive, made the right decisions with the ball outside of a couple instances, hit his shots. Of course, he gave up just about as much as he created tonight on the defensive end, and that's a huge reason why he's a stopgap at point guard and not a long term solution. Still, when his shot is falling, he's a fun player.
- There was some Austin Rivers buzz around the internets today with Kevin Pelton's "Austin Rivers/worst rookie ever" story at ESPN. My thoughts on him I've made pretty clear -- he's been awful, but we know that. A lot of us knew it'd be this way coming into the year. And I simply don't want to pile on him unnecessarily. He is what he is -- a "scorer" that's really struggling to do that right now -- but he's making very clear progress as a creator for his teammates. If he ends up putting in the worst rookie campaign ever, so be it. For better or worse, he's a Hornet now, and I think even the most pessimistic among us (which may well be me) can admit that we're seeing quite a few flashes of skill. Rivers becoming a net positive player by year two or three is far from impossible.
- Feels good to win, tho.