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Hornets Lose to the Raptors

Ryan Anderson hit a three to force overtime only to see the team struggle to create any offense.

See how far Vasquez was?
See how far Vasquez was?
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

Just when I thought Heart Attack games were making a comeback.

After an incredible baseline spin move and-1 from Anthony Davis, 2 FTs from Vasquez and a Ryan Anderson 3, the Hornets went from being down 13 with a little over 5 minutes left to being down just a minute later (83-78). Toronto would only score 8 points in the next 4 minutes while the Hornets would score off beautifully run plays -- a wrap around pass from Vasquez to a rolling Davis, a double pindown play for Roberts for a 3, 4 straight points from Vasquez - a push shot over Amir and a beautifully executed screen for Vasquez for a layup - and a dribble hand off to Ryan Anderson. Sadly, that would be the last time the Hornets would run an effective play.

The result? A heart attack moment followed by a heart break moment. On to the bullet points.

  • Let's start with non-Rougarou talk -- the Raptors commentators were awesome - they talked about the Raptors and the Hornets performance fairly (citing for example how DeRozan struggled at the start but made up for it with good postups while also praising how Anthony Davis is an underrated scorer). That alone should give them a head start in the race to the best commentator award. But no, they had to go on and praise not only New Orleans' food (that I have yet to taste really. I might have to eat at a Gumbo's store here in the Philippines at some point this month), they also looked like they genuinely loved the fact that basketball is there to stay in New Orleans, the great job that Benson has done and even joked around with one of the fans eating shrimp. They deserve a clap.
  • Now, more non-Rougarou talk -- Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm talked nonstop about how DeRozan is playing light years better than he has in the past but the numbers don't necessarily reflect it. (His advanced numbers this season are close to his career averages). He especially talked about DeRozan's play in the post. Disregarding the Synergy Numbers (where he's ranked 17th(!) on postups, scoring 0.97 PPP), DeRozan is stronger, calmer and is making better decisions. I'll let the other blog discuss this further. Just wanted to note that because he was a key to why New Orleans lost the game.
  • Anthony Davis. Wow. Goosebumps all around. 25 points. 11 of 20 from the field. 3 of 3 from the line. 9 rebounds. 2 TOs. 1 steal. 3 blocks (and countless good rotations and challenges). All while playing 34 minutes in a 53 minute game. He did all that in an 87 possession/48 minute game. Wow. No words.
  • Well, I'll put in some words actually. Anthony Davis was showing the midrange game tonight. Hit the majority of the open jumpers, made a couple of tough shots along the way including a beautiful baseline spin drive with contact and a great roll (and a great find by Vasquez) resulting in another And-1. He played with energy and focus - something that we haven't seen from him a lot. This (and the CHA game and the MIL game) is what happens when Anthony Davis plays with laser point focus and overflowing energy through out the game - an all around performance from the guy. If he can bring his conditioning up to the level where he can keep this up for 36 minutes. Wow. What about that ROY again?
  • Not to be a party pooper, but I'd just like to mention the fact that Anthony Davis as an off the ball scorer (cuts, rolls, pops, offensive rebounds, etc) is already good to great. What he needs to do now is find a way to become a better on-ball scorer. That fadeaway against a much smaller Lowry? Not the brightest decision. He'll get there. I'm fairly confident with that statement.
  • People will look at the box score and say "Whoa, Vasquez was one rebound shy of a triple double!" Well, again not to be a party pooper but in my opinion he had a "good" game. If you followed the mini play-by-play intro above, you'd notice the pattern on the majority of shots were assisted or scored by Vasquez (2 And-1s by Davis, 2 made FGs from him, a hand off to Anderson). Thus, he was a huge reason why we were able to get back into the game but he was also one of the reasons why we lost in OT. A slow (but correct, mind you) rotation, 2 forced shots, an almost TO and the overdribbling again were reasons why we struggled to score in OT. He also had a hard time blowing past the faster and stronger Lowry. But overall, good game from the General.
  • Vasquez post up count: 3 or 4 (unless I missed something). One yielded a gorgeous alley oop to Anthony Davis off a pick. More please.
  • Ryan Anderson caught fire out there late in the game when we needed baskets. Although it is quite depressing that Alan Anderson - 6' 6" swingman can defend 6'10" Ryan Anderson with good results. Nonetheless, Ryan Anderson was able to operate really well today (except on a couple of defensive plays when Alan Anderson just blew by him).
  • With that said, I was really really happy to see Monty go with the 3 guard lineup of Roberts/Rivers/Vasquez a with Anderson/Davis flanking the inside. It was an interesting twist since Monty usually loved size. This time, he went with Anderson. Is this a one time thing or a recurring one? Monty openly admitted that RyNo and Davis should play more together so we'll see.
  • Oh Austin Rivers, Austin Rivers. He followed an incredibly effective 1st half (with a super effective 2nd quarter where he was the main creator) with a super lame 2nd half - forced FGs, a bad pass of a good drive (another case of him being to unselfish) and was overpowered by different players, especially DeRozan. That back breaking 3 by Lowry in OT? It started because Rivers was on DeRozan. No worries. At least he wasn't bad from start to finish #Progress
  • Aminu sighting.
  • Mandatory SF bullet point: 3 points on 4 FTA (and no FGA), 6 rebounds, 3 assist, 1 blocked shot. /throws hands up
All that said, I'm a little bit depressed with the loss. It was a game they could have won (regardless of the fact that we needed a couple of desperation shots to go in to get to OT). The Hornets were playing beautifully to end the 4th (why can't they just continue doing that?!). Anthony Davis was hitting his midrange jumper, Vasquez was being smart and decisive, Anderson was finally getting his stroke back - then suddenly we revert back to the ways of overdribbling, 1-on-1 and lack of movement.

The next game will feature the return of Eric Gordon. Regardless of what your opinion is of his stay here, remember that he's here. He's a Hornet and we need more production from the guard spot. Hopefully, now that we have a complete lineup, everyone can finally return to their supposed roles - Eric Gordon as the primary scorer, Davis as his secondary scorer in the starting lineup, Vasquez as a distributor, Anderson and Rivers as shot and point getters off the bench, Robin Lopez continuing to play well in 20+ minutes and Jason Smith providing energy off the bench. Don't expect Gordon to play heavy minutes right out of the gate yet. But do expect him to make an immediate impact. It's a winnable game. Hopefully we do win it.