The Pistons beat the Hornets

Published: January 16, 2010

The Hornets came up against a throwback Pistons team tonight, with the likes of Rip Hamilton and Ben Wallace playing like it was 2004. New Orleans got down big early and seemed to be fighting back for most of the game. It was tight down the stretch and Chris Paul was able to send it to overtime with a late layup and some tight D on Hamilton. Rodney Stuckey awoke from a coma in the extra session, coming up with two impossible three-point plays to make up for his earlier irrelevance. Adding to that, some ugly plays by Paul and David West sealed the Hornets fate.

104-110 the final (box).

Impressive Pistons

I have to give the Pistons a lot of credit tonight. They played much better than their record. Defensively, they hedged hard on the pick and roll and had exceptional defensive rotations to fall back on. They never allowed David West to go one-on-one down low, clogging up the middle regularly. They were lucky in a sense that the Hornets shot poorly from three for most of the game.

Offensively, the Pistons showed excellent ball movement and used a lot of off-the-ball action. They looked to Rip Hamilton early and often. He ran off about six million baseline screens and knocked in plenty of midrange J’s. Jeff Bower tried several different guys to try slow him, but nobody could really shut him down. Rip finished with 32 points and 10 assists, both season highs. (Must be noted though that he’s played just twelve games this season.)

Detroit also did a great job on the boards and getting to the free-throw line. They out-rebounded the Hornets 46-34 and earned a bunch of second chance points. Wallace alone had 21 rebounds, 5 of them offensive. They shot 40 free-throws, making 31, compared to 25 takes and 21 makes for the Hornets.

Lost points

The Hornets left a lot of points on the board in this one. Emeka Okafor traveled to negate a wide open dunk in the first quarter. Marcus Thornton blew an open baseline jam in the second quarter. James Posey failed to put down a dunk right before the halftime buzzer. Darius Songaila blew an open layup early in the fourth quarter. And then there were all those open looks for Peja Stojakovic and Devin Brown that didn’t go down.

West inside vs. West outside

As mentioned, the Pistons did a solid job on West… except for one particular stretch midway through the fourth quarter when he scored six points in two minutes as part of a 12-6 Hornets run. West started running pick and fade plays with Paul during that time. With Thornton, Peja and Posey also on the floor, the Pistons’ defense was stretched to the limit and the Hornets finally got some open looks. Unfortunately, West went back into the post for the last few minutes of the fourth quarter, where it was much easier for the Pistons to double and force him into some tough shots. I was surprised the Hornets didn’t stick with what was working.

Devin Brown and Marcus Thornton

We saw perhaps his worst game of the season tonight. He’s never been the best at getting around screens, so he had a real hard time keeping up with Hamilton. He continued his offensive slump, too, missing all three of his shots, all of which were good looks if I recall correctly. As CST’s Victor Howell noted during the game, Devin has been way off from downtown since his big game against the Jazz earlier this month, missing 19 of 23 treys since then.

Thankfully, Brown was only given 21 minutes of PT tonight, and didn’t play at all beyond the third quarter. Stepping in and stepping up in his absence was Marcus Thornton, who showed his usual aggressiveness, hustled his ass off and knocked in a few shots. Like Devin, Marcus also had problems guarding Rip Hamilton, but he definitely did a better job there. He locked and trailed Hamilton on most of the picks rather than cheating over the top and getting lost.

A few bullets to finish…

  • Those ugly plays I mentioned were West running into Wallace and turning the ball over with 42 seconds left in overtime, followed by CP’s offensive foul where he stuck his leg out on his long jumper to try get a foul called (yes, that was the right call).
  • Paul’s final numbers: 24 points, 14 assists, 5 boards, 4 steals. Loved that steal he got on Stucky where he tipped the ball away and then knocked it out of bounds off him. I also love that he takes on the challenge of guarding the other team’s go-to guy down the stretch. He won that challenge against Kevin Durant earlier this season, and did a nice job on Rip at the end of regulation but fouled him in the same situation late in OT. Still, two out of three…
  • Julian Wright played 8 minutes and hit two nice rainbow jumpers. He also did a decent job of sticking with Rip Hamilton around those picks. Would have been nice to see him get some burn in the second half since Peja’s contributions were limited.

Tough game to lose anytime, but especially on the first night of a back-to-back. Hornets will be up against it tomorrow in Indiana. The Pacers played in New Jersey tonight, but put the Nets away early and got to rest their starters.

UPDATE: Mr. Kennedy has your post-game Journal report, and has the video highlights…

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