Head Coach Monty Williams his first career coaching win in his first game as Hornets coach Wednesday night as the Hornets defeated the visiting Milwaukee Bucks 95-91. It wasn’t the prettiest win, but it certainly provided Hornets fans with hope for this season. Since this is my first blog of an actual game I want to set a format for how I will look back on the game. Thus I will be doing a format where I look at “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”. So let’s get to it.
David West started out hot for the Hornets and if it wasn’t for foul trouble would have had more than the game high 22 points. West looked like the former All Star that we all know and love. D West was knocking down his mid range jumpers with ease. Much of that came off CP3′s penetration, which led to Paul recording 16 assists. Paul ended with a double double 17 points and 16 assists. Not to say he was not impressive, because well he was, but this type of game has become a regular expectation for Paul. Which is why he still is the best PG in the game. When you have a average game and end with 17 and 16….that’s some dam good basketball. Paul never took over the game, but he controlled the game from start to finish. He set the tempo and the rest of the Hornets followed suit.
Another solid performance came from one of the many new Hornets players in Marco Bellinelli. Bellinelli scored 18 points, 11 in the first half. Bellinelli sparked the Hornets and gave the starting lineup an energy level that was missing much of last season. Bellinelli did not make all his open shots, but he did draw fouls, drive to the basket, and create his own shot. Something that I did not expect from him when he joined the Hornets.
Jason Smith. What can I say, but thank you for showing up in the second half. Smith played to say the least poorly in the first half. I was ready for Monty to give up on him and go small with Peja at the 4. But given the foul trouble with West and how poor Okafor played (which I will get to later), Smith was forced into duty and he played with heart and passion. He ended with 8 points off the bench. He also seemed to be someone Monty trusts in the most crucial game situations. Smith may become a key player in this rotation.
As for the team as a whole, they Hornets played adequate defense, drew fouls (23-29 from the line), moved the ball well (23 assists on 34 makes), and showed energy. I’ll take that everyday of the week.
Emeka Okafor. He seemed lost at times. His offense was non existent as he took no shots. Mainly because Andrew Bogut shut him down and because Okafor could not get open. Okafor did have 9 rebounds, but only one offensive. Okafor needs to move more often without the ball. His defense was average and for what we need from him, he will need to be better than that.
Hornets committed way too many fouls. The Bucks were the worst team in the NBA at getting to the foul line last season and they shot 28 free throws in the game. Imagine what might happen when we play a team that gets to the foul line a lot? It could get bad real fast.
4-17 from three point range. Bellinelli and Trevor Ariza combined to go 2-11 from 3, and most of those if not all were open shots. They need to improve on those numbers.
The lack of playing time for Marcus Thornton. Yes he did play 11 minutes, but he needs more time on the court. He ended with 8 points and tied for second best on the team with a +/- of +8 (Tied with Ariza and behind Paul +11). Thornton did not even enter the game until the second quarter. He is our sixth man. He may be our 3rd best player. He needs to get more playing time. But I will say I trust Monty and his style. So maybe he is just getting an idea of what type of team he has and as far as the first game goes, it’s a team that has potential. Hopefully we can build on that Friday night when the Hornets host the Denver Nuggets.
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Written by Andrew Tressler