|2012-2013 NBA Season|
|December 12th, 2012|
|Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma|
|7:00 PM CST|
|Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Fox Sports Network New Orleans|
|WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1), KMEZ 106.7 FM|
|Enemy Blogs: Hornets 24/7|
|Previous Meetings: Nov 16th, Dec 1st (Thunder Lead Season Series 2-0)|
|Greivis Vasquez||PG||Russell Westbrook|
|Austin Rivers||SG||Thabo Sefolosha|
|Al-Farouq Aminu/Anthony Davis||SF||Kevin Durant|
|Ryan Anderson||PF||Serge Ibaka|
|Robin Lopez||C||Kendrick Perkins|
3 of our first 22 matchups were against the New Orleans Hornets, but it's hard to complain. The Hornets are sitting at the absolute bottom of the Western Conference, with a record of 2-13 over their last 15 games. With the Wizards starting to win games, it's not hard to see the Hornets sinking to rock bottom. Moreover, the Thunder crushed the Hornets on the road in their previous two encounters, with the fourth quarter essentially being garbage time.
Is there any hope? Well, the Hornets have a glimmer. Anthony Davis has finally returned to the lineup, and while it's true that we destroyed the Hornets with Anthony Davis back in early November, they're looking for something, anything to help them win.
I mentioned in the last preview ways that the Hornets could win their matchup. They'd need to play solid man-to-man D, control the pace, and hit their darned open shots. It's not too tall of an order on its' own, but when your team has three guards shooting under 40% and doesn't break the top 20 of any statistical category except assists and blocks, it's harder than you might think.
After seeing the last matchup and with the inclusion of Anthony Davis, have any of those principles changed? Well, they definitely need to work to get him inside. According to At the Hive, he floated around the perimeter a lot in his return game against the Wizards yesterday. If he can get inside and use his size and athleticism to his advantage against Kevin Durant, then hay, maybe the Hornets can make a game of this.
They could also benefit from going to Robin Lopez a bit more. He was the one rock that kept steady in the Hornets last loss to the Thunder, and he was a large reason the game wasn't a total blowout. He's definitely really off and on in terms of when he decides to score, but he's the only Hornet shooting over 50% on the year, so you know he's reliable.
Of course, all of this is really pie in the sky as far as the Hornets are concerned. Until they've proven that they can overcome their offensive lulls, I don't think there's any way they can defeat the NBA's #1 scoring team. Russell Westbrook should have his way with the smaller Brian Roberts and Greivis Vasquez in the post, and Kevin Durant should have no problem scoring over the slower-footed Anthony Davis.
At the end of the day, I think the Hornets have the talent to win. But they just lack the primary scorer that's supposed to take all of the pressure off of the other guys shoulders. They have to rely on rookies and role players to carry huge loads from night to night, and it results in them coming up consistently empty. If Anthony Davis could be the superstar they say he will be, or if Eric Gordon ever returned, this might be a team to watch for. But as it stands, they're playing pretty terribly right now.
But who knows? Every dog has their day. Or Hornet. Or Pelican.
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 104, New Orleans Hornets 83.