Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
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If you’re wondering just what Hornets coach Monty Williams thinks of his team, you don’t have to turn far.
Just listen to the first sentence in his second quote following Monday night’s all-too-familiar and all-too-embarrassing 100-92 loss to Sacramento.
“We have guys that are trying their best and it’s hard to sustain the kind of high-level intensity it takes to win an NBA game,” Williams said.
Folks, he said an NBA game.
Not a game against a high-caliber opponent (which the Kings are not).
Not a game at home against one of the NBA’s worst teams (which the Kings are).
An NBA game.
I might go a step further.
They may not have the game-long intensity to win many college games.
Everyone has lost track at this point of fourth-quarter collapses by New Orleans (4-21).
Monday night’s was only the latest case.
Williams, for one, sounds fed up with the free fall the Hornets are on these days – losers of six in a row and 21 of the past 23.
“I told our guys this is about being a man,” Williams said. “You can’t run from it. You’ve got to do your jobs. And you can’t quit. You’ve got to continue to push and work as hard as you can because that’s the only way you’re going to get out of it.”
In other words, it sounds like Williams feels as if his players, as young and inexperienced as they may be, are shirking from their responsibilities on the floor.
While that might be true, you’ve got to wonder if Williams has been shirking his duties as head coach.
The Hornets appear lost in the fourth quarter on offense, running playground sets but instead of everyone wanting to take the shot, no one wants to. It’s up to him to change the offensive sets, to impress up on his players that something has to be changed.
And this is where New Orleans might have its biggest shortcoming. Without Chris Paul and without David West, the Hornets have no one to count on in the clutch.
Before you say Eric Gordon, you can’t call a guy who has played only two of 25 games the team’s go-to player, especially one sitting out with a mysterious bone bruise (Portland’s Nicolas Batum hit nine 3-pointers the other night with a similar injury).
Williams acknowledges he has no Paul, he has no West, he has no one the players can count on to open the offense up in the final minutes.
“We don’t have that,” Williams said. “We’re trying to figure out who has the hot hand every single night.”
Meantime, the Hornets remain frustrated.
Then again, that shouldn’t be a surprise.
Not when Williams feels the team doesn’t have what it takes to win an NBA game.
“They are trying their best and are just not able to pull it out when the pressure goes up,” Williams said. “We haven’t done it enough this year to merit any kind of confidence down the stretch. When things don’t go our way, you can see us kind of weighing a bit.
“It’s unfortunate because the guys are trying their best.”
And their best just isn’t good enough.