Welp. I'm still not entirely sure how the Hornets lost that game.
With 3:30 to go, Ryan Anderson had just knocked down his second consecutive bail-out jumper from distance (this one for three), and New Orleans led by 9 points. It hadn't been a good performance by any stretch -- the opponent was the league's second worst team after all -- but a second consecutive win appeared to be on the cards.
At the 3:30 mark, one might figure there'd be about 10 or so possessions left in a close ballgame, accounting for a couple free throw possessions at the end. Making up 9 points on that many possessions is relatively rare. So, of course, Orlando scored 17 points on its final 9 possessions (not coming up empty on one single trip), New Orleans got 5 on its 9, and that was that.
9 point lead, 3 point loss. And pitiable defense to place the blame squarely atop. Zooming out a bit from those final 9 possessions -- Orlando scored on 14 of its final 17 trips down the floor. Orlando! This was about as pathetic as an NBA loss can get.
The inability to play defense shined a bright light, as it has so frequently this year, on the coaching staff's inability to call effective plays in high leverage situations and the team's inability to execute. Eric Gordon was again non-existent down the stretch, and we saw the return of the dreaded desperation "heave ball into air" move at the shot clock buzzer from Greivis Vasquez that feels increasingly less of an individual failure and more of a collective one for playcalling, anticipation, and adaption to defensive scheme,
The Hornets have no idea what they're doing on the floor on offense for entire series of possessions at a time.
As far as individual notes go:
- Anthony Davis' 17 point, 15 rebound, 4 block night was relatively ridiculous.
- Al-Farouq Aminu's defensive activity was nice, though his continuing and absolute inability to hit a wide open jump shot was on full display.
- Eric Gordon's inability to muster much at the end stings, but his 5 assist/0 turnover line does bode well.
- And as far as the bench, both Austin Rivers (9 points on 4 of 7, 1 turnover) and Xavier Henry (8 points on 3 of 6, 0 turnovers) made solid contributions.
With the loss, New Orleans moves into a tie with Sacramento for the league's 5th worst record.
For the lottery-minded, the Hornets remain quite a ways from achieving Orlandan levels of ineptitude. I suppose, though, that merely adds insult to what proved to be yet another night of unbridled farce.