For approximately the last several last weeks, the majority of games have followed a similar script. Instead of delving into the details, nikkoewan posted a befitting template in tonight's gamethread, which essentially depicts the first half:
After the reserves relinquished the lead, the Hornets were unable to find and implement the formula for success for any sustained stretch the rest of the game. One significant impairment was foul trouble. In a little over the first 3 minutes of the second half, Anthony Davis picked up two quick fouls and had to sit upon being whistled for his fourth foul. His replacement, Ryan Anderson, promptly picked up two fouls in the following 4 minutes, thus also sending him to the bench with four fouls.
In all, the Hornets were called for 32 fouls, nearly 12 more than their season average. As usual, this never-say-die squad still went on to make several valiant attempts to take the lead in the closing minutes, but came up just a little short.
Although Monty William's rotations were largely dictated by foul trouble, he appeared to make better decisions tonight regarding personnel. When Lance Thomas and Austin Rivers contributed nothing, they failed to get more than just one stint in the game. Meanwhile, Aminu, who again had several mistakes, was on the floor for over 29 minutes.
One thing that is becoming increasing clear, Davis appears to be on some type of minute restriction. Whether this is due to the organization mandating cautiousness with their prized 19 year old, fear of some recurrence of injury with the left ankle or Monty helping Davis overcome the rookie wall, Davis isn't likely to surpass 32+ minutes anytime soon.
1. Anthony Davis Down the Stretch. Upon entering the game in the 4th quarter, and with 5 fouls to boot, Davis almost single-handedly willed the team to an improbable win. Besides the numbers (8 points, 3 rebounds and 1 block), the variety of his scores were just as, if not more, impressive. From a floater in the lane, usually seen out of the Tony Parker's of the world, to a one dribble, pull up jumper just inside the arc, a la a SG, to a tip-in offensive rebound in heavy traffic, Davis displayed a significant array of his potential talent in the span of 4 minutes.
2. Darius Miller Sighting. With Monty forced to grasp at straws, Miller entered the game in the third quarter and played some good basketball. Immediately, he slapped the ball out of Randy Foye's hands, and off his leg, for a turnover. Soon after, he drilled a baseline three. Less than a minute later, he made a beautiful bounce pass to a cutting Jason Smith, for an easy dunk. If Miller continues to make good plays, he should undeniably move up in the rotation, especially with Lance Thomas and Xavier Henry continuing to flounder.
1. Inability to Stop Utah's First 3 Options. Coming into the game, it shouldn't have been a secret what Utah's gameplan was going to be. Not without Mo Williams nor Gordon Hayward. Yet, the Hornets allowed Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors and Paul Millsap to combine for 62 points on 23 of 39 from the floor (59 FG%). We even witnessed Monty attempt to slow them down by playing some zone, but it was to no avail. You're not going to be able to beat too many teams in the NBA if you can't eliminate or even limit their obvious strengths.
2. Missed Freebies. In a close game, missing 11 freethrows will almost always decide the outcome. Even though the Jazz had an astounding 46 attempts from the line, had the Hornets converted more than 17 of 28 attempts, they very well could have left Salt Lake City a winner.
The Hornets fly to Denver to take on the Nuggets on Friday. Fortunately, they should be better accustomed to the thin air, after having spent more than several days at high altitude. Hey, with our team, every little bit helps. Geaux Hornets!