After a strong offensive start, the Hornets laid down for the next three quarters in a comfortable win for New York.
On the one hand, it was the first loss in a week, it came on the road against a good team, and it was a Sunday matinee, which, in the past, has produced some strange results. Still, it wasn't pretty by any stretch.
An abysmal bench performance ultimately doomed the team; Ryan Anderson's terrible 3 of 12 night (7 of 8 missed threes) was almost certainly the difference between a competitive finish and one verging on a blowout.
It's probably time to talk about Anderson in some critical depth now too. Generally, I've excused Anderson's poor play with "heh, shooters." Anderson's been in an extended slump -- he's now missed 50 of his last 75 shots. Which is bad. And the bigger problem is that Anderson's bringing very, very little to the floor outside of shooting, so on nights where he does miss everything, he's barely been worth playing.
This is of course a bit weird; in the past, Anderson's been a very strong offensive rebounder (11% offensive rebound rate in 2011 and 13% in 2012). With the Hornets, his offensive rebound rate has dropped into the low 8%s, below league average for bigs. He's getting to the foul line almost half as frequently as last year (1.6 FTA/36 minutes as opposed to 3.1). And Lance Thomas and Al-Farouq Aminu are very, very clearly superior defensive options.
This simply has to change. Anderson's shooting is elite to the point where in the big picture, everything else can be more or less overlooked. He's just that good from range. But on a less macroscopic level and on a game-to-game basis, he has to be doing more to offset bad shooting.
We saw the first "good" shooting line from Gordon this season -- 7 for 14. New York clamped down on him in the second half once they saw that nobody could create a lick of offense alongside him.
This also speaks to the dangers of attempting to find correlations between things like "they're 5-1 when he shoots poorly!" There are just too many external factors involved in such calculus, and tonight, those factors were poor shooting from the arc and a lack of creativity that led to the much-dreaded force feeding of Robin Lopez (who finished 5 of 14).
Monty Williams' rotations continue to be perplexing.
Instead of re-introducing Gordon and the starters into the game as soon as New Orleans cut it to single digits in the 4th (about 6:00 in), he didn't. On the next possession, Roger Mason launched a desperate drive to the rim, attempting a bizarre, contorting, right-to-left handed layup that airballed. On the next play, Brian Roberts dribbled around for 20 seconds before getting a three rejected by Tyson Chandler at the shot clock buzzer. On the other end, New York took control of the game.
Jason Smith also only got 7 minutes in a game that the Hornets had dire need for his pick and pop game. Was there an injury I missed?
- Greivis Vasquez and Anthony Davis were reasonable, but not fantastic.
- This was one of the few games where I thought Lance Thomas' typical negligible box score line (13 minutes, 0 points, 3 rebounds) belied his actual impact; on a number of possessions, he played picture perfect defense on Carmelo Anthony.
- Xavier Henry had some nice minutes at the end, and it'll be interesting to see if he supplants Austin Rivers at the back end of the rotation.
- Monty Williams' beard looks like it's graying, right?