The Hornets beat the Warriors

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Published: December 24, 2009

The Hornets defended their homecourt tonight from an injured-plagued yet determined Warriors team, wining 108-102.  The Warriors, despite their record, are pretty much custom-built to give the Hornets fits as Paul and company routinely struggle in shutting down quick guards. Tonight was no exception as Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry routinely got to the rim with little resistance.  The Hornets made up for it by trying to crash the glass – and trying to pound the ball inside.   One of those worked.  The other, not so much.

Pounding the Ball Inside to David West

There is one fallacy that most pundits spout whenever talking about the Golden State Warriors.  “Get the ball in the post and you’ll destroy these guys!”  Sorry, no.  The post is absolutely not the way to destroy the Warriors.  Yes, they will cover your big man with a smaller guy.  Yes, your big man will be stronger than their smaller guy and will score a few times by simply bulling to the rim.  No, your big man will not be efficient.  The reason, of course, is that big men typically don’t dribble that well, a back to the basket player typically needs at least two dribbles to gain an advantage, and Golden State’s players will energetically attack a post players dribble.  They did it to Dirk Nowitzki a few years ago.  They did it to David West tonight.  West had 14 points on 13 shots – and six turnovers.  In the fourth, the Hornets were determinedly going to West for basic post ups, and they resulted in very few points and several turnovers.

The best way to take advantage of the Warriors’ lack of size by rebounding the ball – and by having your big man get to the basket, seal his man away from the rim, and receive a lob entry pass over the top for an easy dunk or layup.(one of the hardest passes in the game)   Okafor did that pretty well, receiving pretty entry passes from West, Paul and Julian Wright.

Rebounding

The Hornets had 18 offensive rebounds, and outrebounded Golden state by 14.  Okafor had huge offensive rebounding numbers – though those were a bit misleading because he frequently played volleyball with himself, grabbing an offensive board and missing the putback before getting the board again.  Sometimes, more than once.  During the third, West and Okafor were the only two battling on the boards it seemed, fighting each other for the chance to grab an offensive rebound and lay it in.  There was just not enough Warrior size out there to defend the Hornets.

The Rookie Report

Thornton had his shot going, and he was aggressive as usual, but Jeff Bower opted to use Bobby Brown off the bench as the second half shooting guard.  I can’t blame him, Thornton’s defense on Stephen Curry was not good.  On Thornton’s first play, he stuck Curry and forced him into a bad miss.  On the next three, he lost Curry on off-the-ball screens, and never got back into the play, letting Curry hit several easy shots.

Collison had his ups and downs too, hitting a couple nice mid-range shots, and doing his best to slow down Ellis.  Ellis began posting him, and I actually thought that was good.  Ellis hit a couple shots from there, but he had to work for them, and he was no where near as deadly in the post as he was coming off a high screen.  Collison did also have a few miscues as well.  At one point, Songaila pointed out a back-door cut to Collison, Collison went hard into the cut, but then inexplicably stopped.  Songaila’s well-placed bounce pass went out of bounds instead of generating an easy layup.  Songaila went down the court barking “God damn it.”  Collison could only look sheepish.

Other Observations

  • Julian Wright got 20 minutes of burn tonight,  cutting into time normally given to Songaila, who didn’t match up that well against the athletic Warriors.  They were a good 20 minutes, as he snared some rebounds in traffic, played some nice man-to-man defense, and only got caught helping too much once – on a shot that fortunately missed.  More importantly, he was making offensive moves with confidence.  He always looks so much better when he plays that way.
  • Sean Marks strained his calf during shoot around.  Dude can’t catch a break.
  • Anthony Randolph was getting pushed around, but he did a good job providing help defense  for some nice blocks.  He was also completely unable to make a good offensive decision.  Amusingly enough, the broadcast never got his name right.  Whenever it showed his statline at the bottom of the screen, it said “Rudolph.”  No reindeer games for you, Anthony.
  • Devin Brown wasn’t bad offensively, but the Warriors were absolutely killing him.  He couldn’t stay in front of Ellis or Curry after the simplest of stutter steps.  It got Ugly.  Yes, with a capital “U”.
  • Peja also couldn’t guard the speedy guards of Golden State, but he did a great job defensively on Corey Maggette, who relies more on power than speed.  Peja also was catching the ball in the post, facing up and driving immediately.  He got the step on his guy three times in a row.  It was pretty startling considering he usually prefers the fallaway jumper in the post. He’s been showing a lot more of his offensive game since Bower took over than he did in either of the last two seasons.
  • West struggled scoring against the Warriors, but he was working damn hard all game long.  He had a nasty spill in the fourth, and came up gimpy.
  • Speaking of gimpy, Paul did not look assertive tonight, and he was once again rubbing at his ankle several times during the game.  He did have some big buckets at the end of the game, but none of them were explosive forays to the rim.  Instead all of them relied on change of speed, and clever ball-fakes and up-fakes to give him room to take a shot.  Hope that ankle finishes healing up soon.

Next game is Saturday, in Chicago.  Would be nice to get some road wins.


UPDATE: Mr. Kennedy’s got your post-game Journal report, and here are the usual NBA.com game highlights…

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