Shootaround: vs. Lakers
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Updates from Wednesday morning’s shootaround, prior to the Hornets’ home game in New Orleans against the Lakers:
• Both teams are coming off discouraging losses, with the Hornets unable to protect a late-game lead against the Magic on Monday and the Lakers falling by 17 at Oklahoma City last night. New Orleans head coach Monty Williams stressed the importance of trying to push the ball against the Lakers, though the Hornets will need to defend and defensive rebound to do so. “We’ve got to push the pace, to try to take advantage of our youth and get into their legs a little bit,” Williams said.
• Williams’ scouting report on the Lakers: “They still run pick-and-roll. (Steve) Nash has the ball a bit more. Dwight (Howard) is posting up a bit more. They don’t run as much as most teams in the NBA, so we feel like we have to push the pace a little bit… (Antawn) Jamison really hurt us (in the most recent game vs. Lakers). We thought when we cut (our deficit) to one, he made timely runners at the basket. He’s a guy who can not only knock down threes, but can finish around the basket. He has an unorthodox style, as far as flipping (shots) up. Nash is Nash. When I watch him on film, he still has the vision. He doesn’t have the footspeed that he had back in the day, but he’s so smart that he still knows where to make plays. He’s taking shots when he needs to. He’s certainly still finding guys. When he has the ball in his hands, they’re really efficient.”
• Williams on Eric Gordon, big picture-wise: “I firmly believe this is going to be a year that is a bit spotty for him, then next year he’s going to have a breakout season. That’s usually how it goes with these guys coming off surgery and rehab. This is the most he’s played in like two and a half years. I look for him to break out next year and have one of those seasons where everybody’s like, ‘OK, that’s what we’re talking about (in terms of Gordon’s ability).’ But in the meantime, I’m going to try to put him in better positions.”
• After Tuesday’s practice, Gordon gave his assessment of his play over 24 games this season. The shooting guard has struggled with his perimeter touch and recently has not been effective in the second half of games: “This is definitely not one of the better years of my career for sure,” he said. On the positive side, Gordon believes he is improving physically: “I am getting better and now I’m trying to take some strides, getting more minutes and being more productive. I just need to bring it all together.”