The Heat clamp down on the Hornets

Published: December 13, 2010

Two and a half quarters of good, solid Hornets basketball, with the Hornets riding a strong offensive attack by David West, good control of the game’s speed by Chris Paul, and a solid defensive outing by Trevor Ariza. Then, with a few minutes left in the third quarter, in a game with very few mistakes up to that point on either side, the Hornets reserves came in – and the Heat kept LeBron James on the floor. Pondexter has a future in this league, but he’s a rookie.

A few turnovers resulted, a few transition baskets, and LeBron overpowering Pondexter a couple times – and the Heat took a seven point advantage into the fourth.

Chris Bosh then got his defense on, contested all those power moves West was making earlier, and provided enough resistance – with some help by reaching hands from James – to force West into several costly mistakes.  In a game with so few – that’s all it took. The Heat were off and running in an unstoppable transition attack, and there was enough seperation for the game to be over.

The most frustrating part for me? The Hornets defense over those last 15 minutes or so? Stellar. 14 points in the fourth quarter, plus 6 at the end of the third. That’s enough for any team to win, but the Hornets, for what seems like the 20th time this season, completely fizzled on the offensive end in the second half.

Some will blame Paul. I don’t. The Heat deployed Chalmers to attack him non-stop through the final frame, and every time he started to make a move, send James or Wade or Bosh to help. Sometimes two of that three. Paul would then hit the open player – but there was a problem. That player needed to shoot damn fast – or make a secondary move, because the athletic Heat closed fast as hell. Neither option worked for the Hornets, as they missed shots, or made a secondary move and didn’t generate much of a shot either. With West struggling too – the offense was done.

The Hornets still need to find a third option in that starting five, or the offense will continue to flounder at crunch time.

Other Observations:

  • Aaron Gray played – being Monty’s answer to Dampier. A sound tactical move, but Gray still needs to stop letting the ball bounce off his hands. Zero rebounds, sheesh.
  • Belinelli fared poorly against Wade – but I will say that the screens set by Dampier were freaking fantastic.
  • The Hornets opened the game willing to let Bosh line up his mid-range jumpers and let fly. It didn’t pay off, as Bosh sunk more of them then he hit.
  • The Hornets went 1-13 from deep. That’s not going to keep anyone from packing the paint on drives by Paul.
  • I can’t say enough about Ariza’s work on James. He made him work for every point – and James only really got it going when he was being guarded by Willie Green on a switch, Pondexter, or in transition.
  • Belinelli had some great moments to start the game, but again in the second he came up short and delivered nothing from then on. Hey Monty, how about we open with Belinelli for the first half, and let Thornton finish?

That’s my last game recap until I return from my extended vacation on January 3rd.  Hope you all enjoy some good basketball and please don’t treat McNamara and Gerrity too badly.  It’s not their fault they’re not as cool as me.


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