Oklahoma City Thunder Stat Monkey Brief: Thunder/Hornets (12/1/12)
When the Thunder visited New Orleans on November 16, they enjoyed a big, easy win. Since that trip, Oklahoma City has lost only one game, while the Hornets have won just a single contest.
One of the few bright spots for New Orleans has been Greivis Vasquez, who has posted an assist percentage of 47.2 on the year. That is the second best in the NBA, trailing only Rajon Rondo. Now in his third year, Vasquez has become better and better at distributing the ball. After a decent rookie assist percentage of 25.3, he notched a mark of 35.7 last season, ranking 13th in basketball. The fact that he now ranks second might provide a glimmer of hope for the Hornets tonight. Of Oklahoma City's four losses, three have come against teams with a player in the top ten in assist percentage. As the Thunder have allowed 369 assists on the year, fifth most in basketball, good assist players have had big games against them. And Vasquez certainly qualifies as a good assist player.
Unfortunately for New Orleans, collecting dimes will almost certainly not be nearly enough to make them competitive. They will have to test Oklahoma City in other areas as well, and one of the few soft spots for the Thunder has been turnovers. The team had been cutting down on the sloppy plays over the past few games, but came derailed in the fourth quarter against the Jazz, finishing with a turnover percentage of 19.0. That high turnover percentage temporarily let Utah back into what had been a blowout. The Hornets are the second worst team in forcing turnovers, with a defensive turnover percentage of only 12.5, but the Thunder have formed a habit of making life tough for themselves in the turnover department.
Oklahoma City has done a solid job mopping up weaker teams since losing in Boston, and they get one more chance to do so tonight before a pair of games against the Nets and Lakers. New Orleans, meanwhile, will be hoping for a massive sea change in its fortunes when the Thunder roll into town.