The slumping New Orleans Hornets were blown out at home tonight by the Oklahoma City Thunder, 100-79.
This was the second meeting between the Hornets and the Thunder in the last few weeks. Unlike their last contest, when New Orleans allowed OKC to sprint ahead in the first half, they kept within ten points at the half Saturday.
However, the game ran away from the Bees in the 3rd quarter. The athletic Thunder outscored the Hornets 30-13 on 63% shooting, striking fast and exploiting New Orleans in transition with 18 fast break points. Russell Westbrook sealed the 3rd with a buzzer-beater 3-pointer from way downtown, closing out the quarter with a 84-57 edge.
Much of the Thunder offense came from Westbrook in the paint, creating scoring opportunities and drawing out the Hornets bigs. He scored 18 points (44% shooting), passed out 10 assists, and kept feeding his teammates under the rim. Oklahoma scored 52 of their points in the paint.
“I thought [Westbrook] had one of his better games,” said the Thunder’s Scott Brooks. “He’s had a bunch of them lately, at both ends of the floor. He set the tone and then our guys just kind of rallied around that.”
New Orleans defense out-rebounded OKC 27-11, but the Thunder won out in total rebounds, 45-43.
Ryan Anderson was just 3-11 from 3-point range tonight, but came out with a double-double on thanks to ten rebounds and 21 total points. He only shot 25% against Utah on Wednesday. Anderson hit his first three-pointer at the end of the first half, with just 3.8 seconds left on the clock.
Oklahoma’s method for success has been to acquire young talent and focus on their development. The Hornets have been one of the teams looking to duplicate that formula, acquiring Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers, Eric Gordon and a cast of other promising young players.
Davis and Gordon are still recovering from injuries with no timeframe for their return, slowing that progress this season. In their absence, Vasquez and Anderson have both scored career high numbers.
Rivers acknowledges the work has been slow going, but is eager to turn things around. “It’s early. I know everybody is saying we’re building and will get it... I think if we’re hungry and we have faith in ourselves we can get it now. Why wait?”
“We have to take this game, learn from it and get ready for Monday,” said Head Coach Monty Williams after the game. “We’ve got to find a way and keep battling for 48 minutes.”
The Thunder arrived in New Orleans for the second night of back-to-back contests. They beat the Jazz 106-94 yesterday, and head to Brooklyn Tuesday.
The Hornets host the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.
Austin Rivers On His Progress And Making A Positive Impact
We've had big wins this year. We have to believe in ourselves.
I think we came out here tonight before the game thinking it's going to be a tough game; we've got to go there and do this and do that. We've got to compete, man, because we can't keep losing like this at home. That just can't happen. Our fans come out and support us and it's hard to support when we're not going out there and competing the right way. So that's what we've got to do.
I'm just trying to make an impact, man. I'm just trying to make a positive impact. That's the biggest thing right now, as just a young rookie in this league.
If you look at all of us this year, I'd say 99% of us are, just right now — I'm looking at all my friends playing — we're inconsistent. You know, one night this, one night this, one night this... I think that's the biggest thing. You've got to find your consistency, and you've got to find...
You know, coach said to me before the game, and to all of us: "You've got to find that one thing you can bring every single night. That way, when something else isn't working right, at least you can always count on something you're bringing that can impact this team in a good way."
And that's what I've got to do, man. I've got to go out there and impact this team in a good way, no matter what it is. I don't care if it's shoot the ball zero times, but hustling and playing the best defense. If that's what I've got to do, that's what I've got to do. But I've got to impact this team in a positive way. And that's what everybody on our team has to figure out to do right now to turn this thing around. And we can, you know.
It's early. I know everybody is saying we're building and we'll get it... I think if we're hungry, and we have faith in ourselves, we can get it now. Why not?