The Hornets beat the Pistons
The Hornets are on their way back to New Orleans after beating the Pistons to finish their road trip with a 2-1 record. It was a tough trio of games and I’m delighted we got two wins out of it, but I feel the Hornets got no closer to figuring themselves out through it all. I have no idea what to expect from them on Monday.
Before we get into some bullets, let’s talk about effort. Byron Scott has stated repeatedly that a lack of consistent effort is the root of the Hornets problems this season. Last night in Cleveland, it was the Hornets and not the Cavs who looked like they’d gotten off a plane from Chicago at 4am. The Cavs were a wounded animal and we couldn’t even muster enough energy to compete. Tonight in Detroit, we played a very nice, controlled game, but again the effort was lacking. The Pistons had 17 offensive boards against us — 12 in the fourth quarter alone! — and outrebounded us 45-37 overall. That from a team who had not outrebounded their previous four opponents. Most of time they looked like they just wanted it more than us.
Which leads me to a question: is that a coaching issue? Byron says it’s on the players, that he shouldn’t have to motivate them to go out and play hard. But with the effort lacking so frequently, that means we either have a bunch of lazy players who don’t care, or that they’re no longer buying what Byron is selling (i.e. the players are not convinced that putting forth the effort will yield the desired results).
What do you think? I’ll leave it out there for discussion in the comments. I realize I’ve developed somewhat of a bias against Coach Scott this season, so I’m going to try take him one game at a time from now on and give him credit when it’s due. Like in this first bullet…
- I liked how we looked to Rasual Butler early in both halves, given his size advantage over Iverson. That paid off more often than not. I liked the adjustment with David West, too. The Pistons were fronting him well in the post, so he came out of there and got some buckets by running the pick and pop with Chris Paul. Byron also deserves credit for that final timeout, allowing the Hornets to advance the ball to the frontcourt, inbound it into the backcourt and let a lot of time tick off the clock before the Pistons could chase us down and foul.
- Nice job by Chris Paul tonight, after he struggled early with 3 turnovers in the first quarter. He crossed McDyess up something awful and finished with a layup to put us up 5 with 27 seconds left. Big play. He had a similar move against Stuckey in the first half, that one leaving the defender on his ass. CP would finish with 23 points, 14 assists and 5 boards. No steals though for the second straight game.
- By far the most impressive thing about Tyson’s game tonight: 0 fouls in 36 minutes. That’s the first time he hasn’t picked up a foul in a game this season, and it’s amazing how much better he is when he’s not thinking about the officials. He was very effective tonight, not forcing anything and setting good picks. He finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks, one of those an emphatic rejection on McDyess down the stretch. Chandler would have had a couple more easy buckets, too, if alley oop passes from Paul and West had been better placed. TC did of course get beat on a few boards that he shouldn’t have, but if he delivers this kind of performance every night, I’ll be happy.
- Regarding the Pistons getting outrebounded in a lot of games recently, I should note that it’s mostly because of the small ball lineup they’ve been using. Tonight they started out the same but didn’t stick with it as much as they did in previous games. One of Detroit’s best bigs, Jason Maxiell, was a DNP-CD the last two but he got 11 minutes tonight and killed us on the boards.
- I’m not sure what Michael Curry is thinking with that small ball lineup anyways. Detroit are clearly a better team when they have someone like McDyess, Maxiell or Amir Johnson in the frontcourt with Rasheed. It seems to me like Curry is afraid to bench either Iverson or Hamilton, but he’ll have to man up and do it to get the Pistons out of this slump. I’d like to see him put Iverson in the second uint. AI’s ego would have to be handled carefully, but just imagine him coming off the pine and lighting up opposing reserve guards.
- Is it just me, or do we actually seem to be getting out and running more lately? The Cleveland game being the exception of course, because we sucked at everything in that one. 14-9 was our advantage in fastbreak points tonight. CP actually had some guys running with him, Antonio Daniels pushed hard when he was on the floor, and Posey always seems to look for the long outlet when he grabs a board.
- No excuses for Peja tonight. He shot 4-12 from the field, 1-6 from deep. At least three of those three-point attempts were wide open looks; he just couldn’t hit them. He did take turns with Posey though making life tough for Rip Hamilton.
- By far our best offensive strategy in the halfcourt with Chris Paul and David West out of the game is to post up James Posey and plant a shooter on the far side of the floor. Pose is pretty crafty on that low block, and more often than not he’ll get us a bucket against single coverage. If he gets doubled, he passes pretty good out of there and then it’s just a matter of swinging the ball around. Against the Pistons, I can remember us first getting a wide open three for Peja (which he hit) out of that strategy, and another time Devin Brown cut to the hole and got a wide open layup.
- West finished with 20 points (8-17 FGs) and 7 boards. A nice night’s work for him. What sticks most in my mind about him though was a play he didn’t make, which was in the first quarter on the defensive end. I believe CP tipped the ball away from Stuckey into the paint, right in front of D-West, but Stuckey dived on the floor and got the ball to Iverson who hit a J at the shot clock buzzer. That ball was easily ours if only West had gone to the floor after it, but he didn’t. It got me wondering when was the last time I saw West diving on the floor for a loose ball. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that.
- Some numbers: Only 11 turnovers between the teams. Paul had 5 of our 6. We shot 48.6% from the field; Pistons 42.4%. We knocked down 19-20 free throws, TC hitting all 5 of his.
- Gil McGregor was in full effect with the puns. When Paul made Stuckey fall over with that move, “Rodney was Stuckey to the floor.” Amir Johnson is “Amir 21 years old.” The Pistons “rolled the Dyess.” I used to think the puns were so bad they were kinda funny, but nowadays I really wish Bob and Gil would stop flirting with each other and actually make an effort to educate the viewers by analysing the game, breaking down plays, pointing out adjustments, etc. I feel sorry for those folks who don’t know much about the NBA game and come away knowing even less after watching the Hornets on CST.
Next up, the Hornets return to New Orleans for Monday’s MLK matinee against the Pacers. The second half of the month is a lot easier than the first, so hopefully we can get a rhythm going. Note that we’ve yet to win consecutive games in January.