(Link continues after the jump) And on the play he committed, Gordon nailed a corner three-point shot from 16 feet to tie it up and force overtime: Gordon also had a great defensive play in the 3-point contest. The Rockets are 0-9 against teams who are currently 3-16. I’ll save you the suspense to see how well Gordon plays the game. He has improved immensely as a rebounder. Gordon has rebounded 9 times this year and is averaging 10 rebounds this season. He is the only player with at least 9 rebounds a game and a defensive rebound rate under 22 (22.8), good for 4th in the NBA and 15th in the NBA among players who have played at least 900 minutes (per the ESPN Stats & Info, Gordon is already 5th in total rebounds per 36 minutes this year at 9.1). Gordon is averaging 8.8 rebounds off defensive rebounds and only 3.6 offensive rebounds. Gordon has now hit 7 out of his last 8 free throws this season with a 62.2% field goal success rate, tied for 6th overall in the NBA among players who have attempted at least 100 free throws.
Houston has a good guard duo on the floor with Harden and Gordon. I don’t think it’s too great of a change for the Rockets to pair D’Angelo Russell off the bench with a guy like James Harden. At the start of the season, I was thinking Harden and Russell should work well together on the court and we’ve seen that play out. The Rockets have seen great success when they’ve played together on the floor. The three guards are averaging more than 30 points a game on 50% shooting.
And now we head to a different area of the floor. As mentioned in my latest article , the Hornets have been a much better team, but they have been struggling on the defensive end. Last night against the Raptors of the Eastern Conference, the Hornets held a 39-point lead, but it only lasted 20 minutes. The Hornets went on to win by 20, and have now lost nine straight, but still have a winning record. This was the first time since 2012 when they stopped giving up more than 90 points. The Hornets are still giving up 120 points per game, but things are going much better over the last 10 games. I think this isn’t just a rookie season issue. When I talked to Mike D’Antoni at All-Star Weekend, he mentioned that the team was looking to the future in order to try and have a better chance at winning. The offense has gone from where it was in 2012, with Kemba Walker averaging less than 16 points per game, to about 20 a game this year as a rookie. The Hornets are shooting better, but haven’t been able to find anything more than 10+ wins every season under D’Antoni, and this year has been no different. To get the Hornets back on track, they have to get better.
The Hornets also need to do some housecleaning. Jason Smith, Anthony Morrow and Marvin Williams are all unceremoniously dumped by the Hornets. The loss of each player is big for the Hornets. Smith is currently averaging 5.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists a game. Morrow has averaged 3.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.4 assists a game over the past half-season. Williams, by comparison, is averaging just under 8 points. Morrow has been a better offensive player than Williams, and he will likely be given a bigger role this year in the playoffs.
So from a Hornets point of view, the next step is to get a good defender on Williams. The Hornets have a decent amount of options on the cheap, and so I would suggest this will be the final straw for the player. And by the way, Williams did a better job defensively on Westbrook. That will make a difference. The Hornets have tried to play him on the perimeter a bit, but that hasn’t worked well this season, with Williams only averaging 1.5 blocks per game on the year. If Williams gets moved, an easy replacement to fill in, will certainly be Marvin Williams. Marvin is the better player and is playing about at the same points at the moment. Marvin was solid at best against Westbrook, and can hopefully compete with him. But it must be taken into account that these two players aren’t the same people, as you can see. There’s so much left to be determined about Marvin Williams and how he plays as a player, as you can see from the video below.
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