The Hornets Beat the Rockets

By:
Published: November 3, 2010

It was a fun and fascinating game to watch tonight as the Hornets defeated the Rockets 107-99 (Box Score) in Houston.  In a game that had Paul exploding for 14 points in the fourth, Jason Smith tearing it up off the bench, and Emeka Okafor dominating the paint defensively, I wanted to talk first and foremost about one guy:  Monty Williams.

That game was a master class in rotations, finding what worked, ignoring egos, and proving to players that he trusted them.  Ariza low on energy and struggling with Kevin Martin?   Play Willie Green, who gave him fits through the second half.  The second unit struggling to start the fourth?  Bower or Scott would have inserted Paul and West immediately.  Monty calls a time out, talks it over, and sends out the second unit to execute – showing his trust – and execute they did.  Off guards struggling to score?  Don’t keep the standard rotation, and cycle players through until you find who is making shots.  Jason Smith playing well, keep him in there extended minutes until he looked exhausted with 4:30 to go in the fourth, then pull him for West.

This team has a lot of options(Thanks, Demps) – and Monty is using essentially a 10-man rotation to make full use of that.  That fresh rotation also helped tonight, as fouls were flying fast and furious.  The Hornets took advantage by attacking, and earning 42 free throws to the Rockets 18.  Game. Set. Match.

Emeka Okafor

Now that I’ve glowed about Monty, I will once again skip over two other deserving players in Paul and Smith and go to my next key of the game:  Emeka Okafor.  Every once in a while, you see Emeka play like he did tonight.  He was tough, physical, helping on penetration, making Yao work for every shot, and tipping sure rebounds for the other team out of their hands, creating loose balls.  He had a nice 15, 10 and 5, but his impact was much more than that.  He even led a fast break down the floor twice.  That’s right – he outsprinted everyone.

Jason Smith

Smith had me cackling with glee tonight.  Every jumper he took he stepped into.  In fact – that may be more of a comment about the Rockets than Smith, because he should have never had that much room, but all of his jumpers were great shots.  No sideways fades, no rushed leaners.  It’s what I’ve been wanting from him since the pre-season ended. He also ripped down 9 rebounds as his hustle paid off big against the smaller rebounders on the Rockets team.  Songaila could hit shots like that last year, but Jason Smith is so much better than him it’s silly.  14 points on 8 shots.  9 rebounds, 3 offensive, 1 assist, 2 fouls.

Chris Paul

And last we get to Paul, who had a ho-hum explosion at the end of the game, hitting multiple tough shots, a back-breaking three, and generating with Willie Green the key defensive play of the game as he forced Kevin Martin to the sideline, drew an offensive foul, and that triggered two quick technicals from Aaron Brooks.  The only thing that took the shine off the game tonight was when he came up gimpy after snagging a rebound with 30 seconds left, and spent the rest of the game limping and massaging the same leg he had surgery on last year.  I don’t even like to think about it, so lets move on.(Update:  CP3 tweeted after the game that he just had a cramp)

Other Observations

  • Okafor, West and Smith made Scola’s life a nightmare tonight.  He still grabbed a lot of rebounds, but there is something else about Scola that no one should ever forget:  He’s an awful, awful defender.  Smith’s open shots?  Scola was guarding him.  West’s early scoring spree?  Scola was guarding him.  In fact, every time Scola was called for a foul, it wasn’t good for us, because Chuck Hayes and Jordan Hill actually played defense and showed energy, forcing West out of his comfort zone.
  • Budinger comes off curls incredibly well.  If his shot was falling from deep tonight, it would have been a different game.
  • In any other game, Belinelli would have been a key player up top.  He hit a huge floater during crunch time, and was knocking down his open threes in transition.  When he’s hitting those shots, he’s pretty effective.
  • Thornton had a rough game.  He forced some shots off curls(not really his strong suit), and had trouble getting to the cup and finishing.  He did, of course, drill a gorgeous layup in traffic on a hard-charging baseline cut, but it was a game to forget for him.
  • The same could be said for Bayless in the first half.  Three missed wide open threes.  Several out of control drives that gained nothing.  The second half he was better, playing more under control, but offensively he’s still a mess.  Defensively, he was solid as usual.
  • Clyde Drexler had the perfect description of Mbenga during the game.  “He goes hard after it, but he fights the ball.”  Mbenga is strong and challenges shots, but if he touches the ball, things aren’t going to end well.
  • I’m not sure what to think about Ariza.  He had some nice defensive moments, but a lot of the game he seemed disinterested.  That was a little disappointing.
  • Willie Green’s defense on Kevin Martin changed the game.  He stopped the fouls for free throws, and forced Martin to take shots under pressure.  Sure, Martin broke free for a couple open shots, but in general, Green did a stellar job on him.

So that’s it.  The Hornets are 4-0.  Heat are up next on Friday.   Gird your loins for battle.

Yeah, that’s right.  I said loins.

61 comments
JCS
JCS

"Smith had me cackling with glee tonight." I didn't know Vulcans were capable showing such emotion. *shrugz*

QueenBee
QueenBee

Y'all are killing me with that 'Cookies' nickname. You guys are really trying to get it to stick heh? LOL!

42
42

It just doesn't have 'it' I think.

sundance
sundance

If you go to Marco's site, a radio show in Italy has picked up on your attempt of sticking him with a nickname. And I'm guessing here because I don't know Italian (must rely on Google translate), but I think they really like 'Mister Bee.'

hewhorocks
hewhorocks

The coaches certainly arent going the "usual route." I cant imagine anyone else sitting Peja if he was able to play. My assessment of Gray was he was much more mobile than last year though in preseason games where he needed to play more than 10 minutes at a time you could see he was beginning to gas. Truthfully though, a PER of 1.0 and a overall WS/48 in the red is about as poor a performance as you can get . The only reasonable argument against giving Gray a try for those 10/min a game is thats what the coaching staff wants and they've earned the benefit of the doubt with the teams performance so far.

42
42

Another set of possible reasons: Gray is locked in; these other guys are not. You have to make decisions about Mbenga et al. now. Gray . . . no decision to be made. You need info to make the decision, hence the playing time. Meanwhile, maybe Gray is improving. Why would he stop trying at least? I'm not upset. I think Gray is a little better than most seem to think. Not alot, a little.

TheDonors
TheDonors

Nice to see Willie Green and Jason Smith finally getting their props from the members of this forum. I've been defending them since game 1. I still don't really get why so many of us were down on them. They're bench players, which pretty much, by definition, means that they may seem invisible some nights, but neither of them has done anything particularly detrimental to us. It seems to me that we should be happy with such an effective bench. How about that, the Hornets with an effective bench! As far a Mbenga and Gray. I'm not sure there would be much difference. I dig Gray's efforts to get in shape, but in preseason he seemed to need a lot of prodding to run the floor. Even at the free practice, which I was at, he was getting yelled at to run by the coaches. Mbenga is blocking shots. He played great against San Antonio. I like his effort and energy. I think Gray would do a comparable job, but we have to remember that Monty is trying to figure this thing out. We're playing 10-11 deep every night. Let's see how Mbenga develops over the course of a month or so. That's where Monty's head is. Why pull the plug on him right now? It's a long season. We as fans forget that sometimes. We're excited. Gray will have his chance. He just has to be ready when it happens. One more thing - I'm starting to realize that these assistant coaches we have are fantastic. When I see them get interviewed at halftime on CST, they impress me by what they're targeting for corrections way more than Byron's/Bower's staff did. It all comes back to Monty, but he ain't doing it all himself. Great coaching staff from top to bottom. I actually remember being upset as we got turned down by Avery Johnson and Tom Thibodeau. I just didn't know who Monty was. I'm glad we got him.

42
42

Remember, this is who Chris wanted. Says alot about Chris and his desire to make a go of it here, don't you think? If he correctly estimated Monty, why would he want Monty 'stuck' here if he was planning to go elsewhere himself? Riddle me that, Ken 'Stupidface' Berger!

James Online
James Online

Good point above about Marco. If he misses a few shots, you have to stay with him because he WILL get hot. And note the +/- on Marco throughout his career, even last night where his +13 was best on the team. Because Marco can spread the floor, drive the lane to shoot or pass, keep the ball moving, and stay focused on defense, teams play better with him on the floor. He's got great overall game and the combination and chemistry of the first unit is really beginning to develop nicely. He did a lot of damage in just 25 minutes last night. He should be 30 every night. Willie Green looks to be the best player at the 1/2 off the bench.

hewhorocks
hewhorocks

Ollie, Bad form. No one is questioning Mbenga's effort just ability. Conversely you are by implication disparaging Gray's effort. A man who dropped 50 lbs in the off season, who visibly boxes out, who hit the deck several times in the preseason going after loose balls. Gray plays hard. You may prefer Mbenga but your assessment of Mbenga's rebounding ability as compared to Gray's is statistically way off base. http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/m/mbengdj01.html http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/g/grayaa01.html Finally while characterizing posters wanting Gray get a chance as "Laker Fans" may make you feel like a "true Hornets Fan" that game doesnt fly here. Make your points, back them up and save the name calling for somewhere else. Remember, "Act like an adult or be regarded as a child."

ollie
ollie

hewhorocks, im sorry for attempting humour i did not realise you were the comedy police with that lakers crack. It wasnt name calling its just a joke, I wasnt aware you were the god of hornet 247, if you give me your email I'll ask you to screen my comments in future :P (another joke, dont cry) as far as mbengas rebounding, every game this year he gets in and tips the ball if the stats dont say the rebounds his its cos he knocks it to someone else, Im just comparing what I've seen this season and this preseason and basing nothing on prior seasons which I think is the best way to assess it. Jason smith is a prime example of why we should evaluate people on their recent performance "your only as good as your last game" Yeh i like aarons hustle but I just dont think its as good as mbenga whose a better athlete, and for a backup centre all we want is defense rebounds and hustle and i think mbenga is better

ollie
ollie

to all of you people wanting Gray activated and taking time from Mbenga, could all you Lakers fans get off the forum please. Mbenga at least tries to get rebounds, goes after shots, stays active and defends. can you ask for much more in a defensive 5 man, we have smith scoring off the bench for the bigs and Id rather have mbenga defendin, going for boards than watchin gray do nothing but watch people grab boards that should be his, and missing layups

rm
rm

Sad not to see Pops get any minutes but there was no way that Smith was coming out and I think his size wasn't going to help him against Yao as a back up 5. Good win though and great stuff again by Monty.

HiMyNameisSteven
HiMyNameisSteven

all i have to say is we are good... plain and simple i see a top 6 seed in west conf. no jynxing please

tyler
tyler

I really see us as a 5th or 4th seed

F******
F******

One word on Belinelli. He looked a little bit out of rhythm on his stroke in the first half and I thought Monty is going to keep him out and playing Green and Thornton instead. But he kept on bringing Cookies in and it payed off as Marco was shooting 7 of 12 (4 of 7 from deep) while scoring 18 Points in 25 minutes! I like that guard rotation so much! Teams must be afraid of various guys on the floor to get hot! Go hornets!

LeoneL
LeoneL

TEAM win! Right on Mr. Paul. Now please go ice the Heat.

Zolinho
Zolinho

Gr8 win!!! :) Btw did ya see Durant: 0-10 3PM-A :D They lost to the Clipperzz lol.

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

fushizle ma dizzle! our hornets are 4 - 0 baby!! take that john hollinger, henry abbott, chris sheridan(basically ESPN NBA writers), Ken Berger, NY Daily News and everybody else that predicted this hornets to fall so fast, we won't even have time to rest! Next one's going to be the real test, the best team in the league - in paper. Hope Monty finds a way to stop their big 3. Not to worry, we have our big 6! WOOT (ROFLMAO) Paul, Thornton, Belinelli, ARiza, West and Okafor > LBJ, Wade, Bosh ROFLMAO but seriously, i'm thinking Monty will first try Okafor on Bosh, Cookie on Wade and Ariza on LBJ. Green will be a backup defender to Wade, West/Smith will be the backup defender for Bosh and I don't know about LBJ.

tyler
tyler

Lol don't forget Smith and Green

cheifyoungblood
cheifyoungblood

6'10 Emeka Okafor dominated Yao Ming ... yeah we won

ur_gmas_daughter
ur_gmas_daughter

Something I've noticed these first four games is the use of timeouts by Monty Williams. He uses the timeouts right before a team builds a lead rather than after a team takes a lead. Whenever the Rockets came close to taking the lead in the fourth quarter he'd call the timeout to preserve our lead. (A lot like Popovich.) In years past timeouts were almost mercy timeouts to stop the bleeding. (A lot like Phil Jackson) Loved the defensive rotations & bench rotations I was looking for this to be Ariza's breakout game with a lil redemption...oh well Looks like all the Jason Smith haters are awfully quiet. Rocket announcers kept saying "M-bing-A" that sounds so light it's "M-BANG-A" dammit! Less Bing more Bang!

F******
F******

Smith is like a mixture of Ryan Bowen and Darius Songaila with his hustle and shooting ability, but unless those two, he has the size to play center! Keep improving big fella!!

504ever
504ever

Where is McNamara and his illogical Smith hating now? Smith is clearly well entrenched in the top 8 players in the rotation based on either minutes played (# 7, when the big drop off in munutes played comes after #8 Thornton) and PER (tied with two others at #5 when you ignor Peja's high PER because he isn't playing). Smith nearly had a double double tonight!!

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

From ESPN- With no room left on the New Orleans bench, Paul was escorted to an area closer to fans to sit during his break in the fourth quarter. A couple fans began to heckle him and take cell phone pictures of the star guard, who yelled back at the unruly fans.

SilentQ
SilentQ

Saw that, and couldn't help wondering: 1. What kind of NBAarena doesn't have a bench big enough to seat an NBA team? 2. Who doesn't get up to let Chris Paul - the captain of the team - take a seat?

JCS
JCS

@SilentQ Your picture is hilarious. I just clicked on your link and saw that you're in Miami like me. Do you have league pass or do you watch games online?

Stefan
Stefan

Remember when we were hoping for 3-4 wins after the 1st 7 games? 4-0 feels goooood.

notoriousBEE
notoriousBEE

The Songalia-Brackins for Smith-Green trade is looking more brilliant with each game. Can you imagine the damage the second unit could do if Bayless, Thornton, and Smith all have a good game? It will happen eventually. Friday night would be nice.....

42
42

Gird my loins? Is Kobe on the Heat? Is Roethlisberger still in town? Gosh . . .

Jordan
Jordan

Sleep in peace tonight.... OneandonlyCP3: Gr8 TEAM win for us 2nite...appreciate all the concerns but I DIDN't hurt my knee 2nite, I just caught a cramp...WHEELS UP!!!

Jay-P
Jay-P

RT @oneandonlyCP3 Gr8 TEAM win for us 2nite...appreciate all the concerns but I DIDN't hurt my knee 2nite, I just caught a cramp...WHEELS UP!!! Phewwwwwwwwwwww

edbballin504
edbballin504

CP3 just tweeted bout his knee...someone post it plz.

edbballin504
edbballin504

Here's the tweet: Gr8 TEAM win for us 2nite...appreciate all the concerns but I DIDN't hurt my knee 2nite, I just caught a cramp...WHEELS UP!!!

Stefan
Stefan

Green was the best surprise for me tonight. He really got under Martin's skin. I hope Bosh won't get many shots against us Friday. I actually hope that LeBron and Wade try to score a lot against Ariza & Green. If we win Friday, we get some serious respect as a 5-0 team!

Forever504
Forever504

Great game boys. The rockets did everything the could to win this game but we still came up with the win

Schmide234
Schmide234

yea i havnt seen any stories on his knee either. its gotta just be a cramp

winze
winze

We are playing the Heat at our home at least, should help give us an edge. Wonder if we could use a combination of Green and Ariza to stop Wade and Lebron? Heat are playing very nice team defense after that first game against Boston, but they still have no interior presence on other end of the floor but then again NJ and Philly are hardly anything special. Magic game looks like an random game based on their play so far this season too. So glad I will be at home (Saturday in AUS) to watch heh

TopherPrice
TopherPrice

Seriously, where is the reporting on CP3's knee? I can't even find a, "Paul said its fine" out there. How is that 1 full game clock minute of him hobbling around after tabbing bother the back and front of his knee not the top question and story of the game? I can't believe Ken "can't wait for the Hornets to fail" Berger doesn't have a story up about how his leg really off in the end of the fourth. I don't like the silence, make my spidey senses tingle.

42
42

Berger disgusts me. He is a rabble-rouser and has no class. The first time we lose at home and travel that night for an away game, he'll publish that Chris left New Orleans after we fail to win for him. And yeah, let's get some knee news.

42
42

Who knows? All I know is I'd like to verbally spar with that sophist/miscreant and see if I can bait him into taking a swing at me. He wounded a number of people with this muckraking and I, frankly, will not forget it.

Joe P
Joe P

I thought I was oversensitive to Berger's hating. Maybe his wife left him for a New Orleans guy, or he got mugged on Bourbon his one trip here. Hopefully the blogosphere will eventually weed out writers with clearly anti-New Orleans agendas. 4. and. 0.

TopherPrice
TopherPrice

CP3 via his twitter, he just caught a cramp. Yeaaaaa 4-0! Lol

TopherPrice
TopherPrice

Woah, "tabbing bother" was supposed to be "grabbed both"

DownUnder
DownUnder

I cant remember who it was (Ryan or Michael) but someone found the stat that said teams that only get 1 win or less in the preseason have only made the playoffs 1 in 7 times or roughly that. Well i wanna see the stat that says how many times teams made it to the playoffs after a season beginning 4-0.

DownUnder
DownUnder

Please... by the way, not saying u guys believed in that stat I remember u saying, 'screw that record'

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

from what i read in ESPN, all teams last year that started 4-0 went on to the playoffs. All teams that went 0 - 4 last year didn't.. HOORAY Hornets! Sorry Rockets! 3 more division mates to kill! LOL

Zwie
Zwie

was i the only one who saw the ball HIT!!! Mbenga in the hands, and bounce away?? im sorry, but if u watched this game... i dont see how u could possibly enjoy Mbenga being our first big off the bench.... i think Smith has definitely overtaken mbenga in the rotation.... and im not saying that Grey WILL do better than Mbenga, but hes on the roster.. HE HAD BEST see some PT soon... Mbenga is just good for fouls, and the occasional block...

tyler
tyler

Last year Grey had a lot of turnovers

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