Big Easy Buzz Blog - July 11, 2010

NBA Summer League: Heat 77, Hornets 72

Sunday, July 11, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer,
The Hornets dropped a second straight narrow game in Las Vegas, this time falling to the Heat. Marcus Thornton led New Orleans with 14 points, while Craig Brackins added 12 and Aubrey Coleman had 11. New Orleans head coach Monty Williams faulted the team’s late-game execution for the defeat, as the summer Hornets couldn’t close out a fourth-quarter lead for the second time in three days.

Part of the problem: Starting point guard Darren Collison didn’t play, due to a bruised right knee he sustained in Friday’s game vs. Golden State. “We played hard, but the execution down the stretch wasn’t great,” Williams said. “Without Darren, we didn’t have a head, as far as having a point guard… There are things we can take care of (and improve); we just haven’t done them yet.”

Other postgame talk:
• Despite being the team’s second-leading scorer with a dozen points, it was primarily a rough second game for Brackins. The Iowa State rookie went 3-for-9 from the field and did not grab a rebound over his 25 minutes of action. “I thought Craig was inconsistent tonight,” Williams said. “Playing that many minutes without a rebound is not something that we will put up with. You have to have a physical presence down there, and rebounding for the most part is just about will. I thought he didn’t establish himself physically in the paint tonight.”

"I was a little disappointed in myself today," Brackine said. "I'm still trying to get into the flow of the offense. I've just got to step it up, work hard in practice, keep my head up and move on to the next game."

• The Hornets’ other first-round pick, Quincy Pondexter finished with nine points (3-for-12 shooting), two boards and three assists, while picking up seven fouls and four turnovers. “Quincy didn’t put up huge numbers, but I felt like he played like he belonged (on the court),” Williams said. “He didn’t look like he was startled by the moment, and that was a good sign.”

Hornets agree to terms with Luther Head

I was given clearance earlier today at the team’s shootaround in Las Vegas to discuss a New Orleans free-agent signing that will be announced in a press release Monday. Five-year NBA veteran Luther Head, a combo guard, has agreed to terms with the Hornets and will become the 12th player under contract for the 2010-11 season.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder has appeared in 312 career games, most notably with the Houston Rockets during his first three seasons in the league. The 27-year-old has started a total of 68 games in the NBA, including 10 with the Indiana Pacers last season. He averaged 7.6 points and 1.5 assists with Indiana in 2009-10, highlighted by a 30-point game vs. Memphis on Dec. 30.

“Luther’s got experience at this level and has been effective,” New Orleans general manager Jeff Bower said. “He’s coming in to help our team, and that’s the mentality he plays with. We like the fact that he’s a good, on-the-ball defender. He’s played for coaches in the past that have stressed defense and that’s really where he’s excelled. We’re excited to have him.”

In his second and third NBA seasons, the former University of Illinois standout was a key rotation contributor for Rockets clubs that qualified for the playoffs in 2007 and 2008. During the 2006-07 season, he averaged a career-best 10.9 points, often scoring points in bunches off the bench.

“We like Luther’s energy,” Bower said. “We like his ability to score the ball in the backcourt. He’s able to play both positions, and gives us some depth at the point guard as well. He’s a guy that has a quick-strike mentality. He can provide us with a little bit of a lift at times.”

Though Head has played both backcourt positions frequently in the NBA, he’s logged a bit more time at shooting guard. He’s a career 38.8 percent shooter from three-point range in his career. By comparison, here are the career percentages in that category for the Hornets’ other common perimeter shooters: Peja Stojakovic 40.0, Marcus Thornton 37.4, Chris Paul 35.3, James Posey 35.1.

“He’s probably more natural off the ball, because of the scoring mentality that he plays with,” Bower said. “That’s probably where his biggest comfort zone is.”