Okay so this is going to be a really generic report on the first two games of the season. The first game wasn’t televised so I didn’t get to see the game, just the boxscore.
The second game I watched a little bit of and there’s a couple of observations from that game I’d really like to get to, so head over the jump and cast your eyes on the wonderful world of preseason action.
The Orlando game was playing in Orlando, in their brand new arena which they were playing in for the first time that was brand new. They played in front of a decent crowd which were there to try out the amazing new facilities on offer. The were also there to see the new and “improved” Orlando Magic, did I mention it was new?
Okay so basically if you didn’t know already, Magic commentators and fans cannot shutup about their new arena they got built which is all sparkly and shiny lookin’. They went on about it for pretty much the entire game because quite frankly they were watching an NBA team play a high-school Div II team. But still they would not shut up about their new stadium, brought to you by Amway.
The Hornets were god awful in the 10-15 minutes I watched them. They were essentially a joke.
Without the post presense of David West, this team really suffers. Because of the fact there was no inside threat for the Magic, they basically went all out to pressure the ball-handler because they knew there was no way anyone other than Paul could consistenly finish around the hoop. It also helps if you have Dwight Howard.
But specifics on the offense I’ll get to in a bit, the real concern was defense, or lack there of. I’ve said time and time again this teams success depends on the defensive end. To be honest the lack of any defense is to be expected. The Hornets couldn’t stay infront of their man, were god awful playing the pick-and-roll and could not to save their life rotate to close out on the Magic’s shooters.
If a player rotated to a shooter then it would leave a big-man wide open for an easy layup or dunk. This is a story that all Hornets fans have come to know to well over the past two years and it’s interesting to see how we were once one of the best defensive teams in the league when we had Chandler.
But enough of this defensive bashing, let’s head to the offensive side of the ball.
We got some production out of Paul, Stojakovic and a little bit from Okafor, but overall not much. Outside of that everyone else was pretty useless.
I’d like to talk about a specific instance that showed just how out of sinc some of these new-players are.
Paul dribbled the ball up and signaled the offensive play, it was clear he wanted to get Alexander involved, what looked like in a pick-and-roll or something. Alexander ran down the right side, went to set a screen on a Magic defender while Paul yelled and pointed him to come up top. By the time Alexander had realized what Paul wanted him to do the clock was winding down. Paul then realized they couldn’t get into that play so he gave Joe the ball on the post and a couple seconds later Alexander turned the ball over, leading to a Magic score.
This is one example where it seems players like Alexander just can’t get into the groove with the team. This also extends to Ariza because as noted by Michael McNamara over at Hornets247, “On three separate occasions, Ariza caught a ball in position to shoot wide open but pump faked instead, jabbed in toward the defender, stepped back and then shot- and missed.”
He goes on to say that, “He needs to slash to the basket or spot up- that’s it, that’s all. No 3rd option, no ‘but what if…’, NOTHING.” And he’s god damn right. These role players like Ariza need to realize that their off the ball movement is key to the offensive sets. Ariza certainly hasn’t learnt his lessons from Houston…
It may seem like I’m painting a dark and bleak picture because well, heck, we lost by 54! But again this is a pre-season game so I suppose we can’t put to much stock into it just like the Magic can’t as well.
But there are glaring issues that this team needs to resolve over the next year because if they don’t it’s going to be a long 82 game season.