The Suns beat the Hornets

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Published: November 12, 2009

The Hornets got trounced tonight in Phoenix, 124-104 ( box | recap ). The Suns put up 40 points in the first quarter, 75 in the first half, and the Hornets never threatened. About what you’d expect when a bad defense meets a good offense.

Some late-night bullets for this one…

Team game vs. Two-man game

The Suns spread the ball around on offense. It’s not unusual for all five guys to touch the rock on one possession. There’s lots of off-the-ball movement, resulting in defensive confusion and guys popping free for jumpers or layups.

In contrast, the Hornets offense is very much a two-man game. Usually it’s Chris Paul working the pick and roll, then dishing directly to a teammate for a shot attempt. Sometimes you might see West or Okafor post up, draw a double team, then kick it to someone for a catch and shoot. Rarely in the Hornets offense is there that extra pass, which makes it very easy for opposing defenses to rotate and challenge shots. This problem seems to have grown out of an over-reliance on the talents of Chris Paul, and the result is a stagnant offense that results in very few easy scoring opportunities.

Defense

Of course, the Hornets’ offense hasn’t been the problem this season so much as their defense, but the offensive struggles seem to affect the team’s defensive effort. Tonight, the defensive rotations again left a lot to be desired, even on simple pick and roll plays that the Suns ran several times.

Worst of all was the rebounding. The final margin on the boards was 45-29. At halftime, the Suns had more offensive rebounds (10) than the Hornets had total rebounds (9). Worse still, the Suns back-up point guard had almost as many rebounds (7) as David West and Emeka Okafor combined (8). Coming into the game, the Suns were averaging as many rebounds per game as their opponents, so they’re not exactly beasts on the glass. Tonight they just wanted those rebounds more than our guys did.

And I’ll hold back on criticizing David West tonight. He didn’t give us much on either end, but I assume hurting his knee early in the game had him playing at half-speed.

Lack of communication

There were many times tonight when it looked like the Hornets just weren’t talking to each other. Our guys tried that hybrid zone defense for a stretch in the second half, and often ended up with two players running to cover the same shooter or cutter. I wonder if what we miss most about Tyson Chandler is his vocals on D.

That said, the Hornets don’t communicate all very well offensively either. One example: midway through the third quarter, Hilton Armstrong was making a move in the post when, without a word of warning from Hilton’s teammates, Grant Hill crept from the wing to double and force a jump ball.

James Posey

Posey has stepped it up offensively on this road trip, averaging almost ten points per game. But I’m still not at all impressed with him this season. He looked like a traffic cone on defense against the Suns. I hope he’s still desperately out of shape. If that’s the reason for his poor play, at least I can hold out hope that he’ll come good later in the season.

The Rookies

Collison again showed nice defensive pressure, repeatedly bothering Dragic on the way up the floor and managing to stay in front of Barbosa a couple of times. He also showed his knack for finishing on the break and in traffic.

Thornton didn’t shoot well (2-6 FGs) and picked up four fouls in 13 minutes. He’s still going all out though with the energy and effort, which is what the Hornets need more of.

Devin Brown

Back down to earth for Devin. 3-of-12 shooting in this one, getting his shot blocked numerous times. He also butchered an attempt at the last shot of the first half and couldn’t get the ball up the court against single coverage in the third quarter. On the bright side, he never seems to drop his head and he did lead the team with 5 rebounds. Yay.


Hornets back home on Friday to take on the Blazers.

UPDATE: Mr. Kennedy checks in with a post-game Journal report. And some video highlights from NBA.com:

Plus, some interesting comments from David West after the game, via NOLA.com:

“Phoenix is one of the better teams in the league,” said West, “and a team like the Clippers, they’ve got a lot of talent, but I wouldn’t necessarily say in terms of them being entirely bought into what they’re trying to do, they’re in the same class. We’re going to struggle against these good teams because basically what’s happening is we’re just getting systematically beat.

“We’re not getting in a flow. Guys other than C.P. (Chris Paul), he’s the only guy on the team that gets a consistent flow of good looks on a nightly basis. We’re going to struggle when that happens. We’ve got to figure out some new ways to attack because we go against these teams that are indoctrinated into their system, and we’re going to struggle.”

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