The Hornets ran into some hot shooting again. This time it was the Thunder and Kevin Durant, who scored 43 points on 14 of 19 shooting, as the Hornets lost 104-93 in Oklahoma City. The Thunder shot 10 of 24 from three point range compared to the 3 of 12 for the Hornets. For a while the Hornets looked to be in this game leading 55-49 at the half. But even before a Trevor Ariza injury midway through the 3rd quarter, Kevin Durant proved to be on fire and un-guardable.
The Hornets played well in the first half despite an injury scare to Chris Paul (breathe easy he came back into the game). But in the second half it was all Durant. With Russell Westbrook on the bench the league scoring leader completely took over. Really, there is nothing anyone could have done. He hit 5 threes himself and some of them were from incredibly deep. Let’s do this…
-When Chris Paul came back into the game after stepping on Serge Ibaka’s foot he lacked any explosiveness and had trouble on defense. Other than that it was a standard CP3 game. 15 points on 9 attempts, 5 assists and 2 steals. He also had 3 turnovers. He also caused the Thunder to commit very stupid fouls (especially Russell Westbrook). He again passed up an open look from three to Ariza who then missed. Ariza is shooting 29% from deep. Chris, you have to take that shot!
- Ibaka is a tremendous interior defender. He had 6 blocks and contested shots whenever someone came into the paint. The Hornets did outscore the Thunder 36-26 in the paint but that seemed more to do with Durant’s outside shooting than the Hornets defense. He was also a rebounding machine.
-Good thing Westbrook got into foul trouble otherwise this game could have been over early. Immediately to start the game he had two quick drives to the rim which no one contested. It helps to have Okafor clog the lane.
-David West got his points (20 on 19 shots) but overall he had an ineffective night going up against Ibaka in the paint. He did a good Okafor imitation by grabbing 15 rebounds.
-Marco Belinelli came out on fire, hitting his first 3 attempts. He moved well and helped keep the offense going. He was benched in favor of Willie Green to start the second half. I am going to assume Monty Williams wanted to add some more defense into the lineup. I doubt Marco would have shut Durant down so I don’t think this move mattered that much.
-DJ Mbenga is bad. On a play in the first quarter, Ariza was screened off the ball and when Durant went to the rim Mbenga just watched him score.
-David Andersen played pretty well tonight. He has a very nice jumper and three point range. His defense leaves some to be admired and he doesn’t exactly post up but in general a solid performance. In the 4th he didn’t box out Nick Collison and gave up a rebound he should have gotten, but I’d like to see him get some more minutes to see what he can do. Hopefully this isn’t like Jason Smith in the first month of the season before teams figured him out.
-Jason Smith did a poor job in the encore from his career high the night before. His defense just isn’t there. At one point he left Nenad Krstic to help out up top on Westbrook. The help defense didn’t matter and Westbrook immediately passed to an open Krstic under the basket for a score. The interior D is already hurting from Okafor’s injury; don’t make it any easier on the opposition like that.
-I liked what Quincy Pondexter did tonight. He was involved with the offense scoring 10 points on 7 shots. He was very active on the offensive glass jumping up for tip-ins. A few of these were mistimed but getting that down will come with experience. Well done, rook!
-Ariza’s injury wasn’t the only reason the 3rd quarter got blown open. In the first half the Hornets forced 10 turnovers compared to 2 for the Thunder. Yes, after Ariza went down the Hornets were outscored 30-18 in the period but the Hornets also had 4 turnovers and the Thunder 0.
-Jarrett Jack takes bad shots. He didn’t run the offense particularly well and everything seemed more settled and calm when Willie Green was on the court.
-Marcus Thornton started off taking smart jumpers and looking for teammates, but as the game got away from the team he started going full steam to the rim again and giving the Thunder fast break opportunities. He really just needs to settle down.
-Come on, refs! Another no call goaltend on Thornton.
Next up are the Lakers on Saturday at the Hive. I’ll be there early so if anyone is around hit me up on twitter (@nolajake) and let me know.
I’ll leave you with better times.