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Rockets Dominate Inside, Beat Hornets 104-92
The Houston Rockets were a step quicker all night, scoring 60 points in the paint to cruise to a 104-92 victory. New Orleans is 7-25 for the season. James Harden became the latest wing player to go off on us, this time to the tune of 31 points and seven assists.
Robin Lopez was solid for the Hornets, but Houston's Omer Asik was even better, notching 21 points and eight rebounds. Patrick Patterson added an efficent 15 and 10.
I fully agree with 247’s Ryan Schwan — the Hornets perimeter players have to do a better job of preventing penetration. But the fact is we are a team full of mostly mediocre individual defenders. Equally important, the team needs to work on their defensive rotations and pick-and-roll defense.
The 2009-2011 Orlando Magic were an excellent defensive team, despite being loaded with poor defenders. Stan Van Gundy had the luxury of making Dwight Howard the focal point, yes. But he also had them disciplined and focused on rotations. Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers have been able to do the same with their big men. All of this is to say, if Anthony Davis continues to develop, Monty Williams should be able to develop this group of players into a good defensive team.
New Orleans put up a balanced offensive effort in the absence of Eric Gordon, who was held out as a precaution for his still-healing knee. Seven Hornets scored eight or more points. With the exception of Anthony Davis (4-of-11 for eight points, with few coming in the paint) I was satisfied with our effort on that end, despite 42 percent shooting.
I’m not even including Austin Rivers — who shot 1-of-5 Wednesday — in that summation. During a brief stretch where Rivers looked decent, his shot selection and defense were both noticeably improved. When he’s off, he looks mentally unfocused and out of sorts. There are clearly some confidence issues going on here, and I can’t see the point in Monty Williams continuing to start him if he’s not going to respond. As Rohan says, it might be time to D-League this guy.
Al-Farouq Aminu played 31 minutes after being a benchwarmer for nine games, and was solid with eight points and eight rebounds. He certainly has his flaws, but Aminu brings a kind of energy and hustle that this team sorely lacks. Our other small forward options, Lance Thomas and Dominic McGuire, are non-factors. I’ll take Aminu with his faults any day.
Growing pains, guys. These are just growing pains. The Hornets are off until Saturday, when they’ll face the struggling Mavericks in Dallas.
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