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Hornets lead wire to wire, down Cavaliers
The Hornets win on the back of hustle plays. It’s a cliche, but they wanted it more.
Five Things We Saw
- The Hornets inverted their offense for the first half of the game and it worked beautifully. They had Vasquez post Iriving and Ayon take position in the high post, giving them a pair of slick passers to move the ball around while Ariza and Belinelli went into motion to get open shots. It paid off multiple times as Vasquez either scored on Irving when no help came, or the ball moved around and frequently found Belli for a quick shot. Great offensive wrinkle.
- At one point in the third, the Hornets purposely ran plays for Belinelli that started with Ayon flashing to the basket. Since he’d been doing that effectively all game long, he kept pulling Belli’s defender to the hoop with him, giving Marco that extra second to get his shot off cleanly.
- It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a Hornets squad that passed a lot. The team has been Iso or pick-and-roll heavy for a long time, and usually was built that way intentionally to take advantage of one brilliant ball-handler. I like that type of ball, but I like this type of ball as well. With Vasquez, Ayon, Bellinelli, Ariza, and Jack, they have five guys who are willing passers.(most of the time) That’s fun, and infectious.
- The Cavs color guy kept referring to Antawn Jamison as “The Jumpshooter”. That’s awesome, and it really does describe Antawn Jamison at this point in his career.
- I murder Kaman a lot, but his tallness near the basket was pretty important. The Cavs kept having trouble finishing over him, and it mattered.
|Trevor Ariza, SF 20 MIN | 0-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 1 PTS | +3
Ariza was having a rough game offensively, and Monty decided to go away from him after the third. That’s the first time he’s done that with Ariza, and it makes me wonder if Ariza had some sort of unreported minor injury and they decided to let him sit. Still, when Ariza was out there, he wasn’t terrible.
|Gustavo Ayon, PF 33 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-4 FT | 17 REB | 4 AST | 9 PTS | +19
El Titan is a beast. He dominated the boards and was flipping shovel passes and bounce passes all over the court. I am going to make that movie highlighting his passing over this All-Star break.
|Chris Kaman, C 35 MIN | 10-25 FG | 1-1 FT | 13 REB | 3 AST | 21 PTS | +16
Kaman still looks surprised when Vasquez or Ayon hit him in the paint with quick passes. At least this game he put some of them in the hoop. Kaman had a pretty good game in all, though his scoring efficiency still makes my eyes bleed. 25 shots, 21 points? Eesh.
|Marco Belinelli, SG 33 MIN | 8-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 19 PTS | +20
Marco was great. The past two weeks he’s coming off screens, squaring and hitting. He doesn’t try anything fancy, and he doesn’t need to. Tonight, he was feeling it so much he was hitting everything. At one point in the fourth, he twice was WIDE open in the corner with his arms up as Kaman received the ball at the free throw line and forced up a runner. Next dead ball, he poked Kaman in the shoulder, said something, and two plays later he pretty much sealed the deal with a three pointer that put the team up 7 with less than a minute to go. Way to demand the ball, Marco!
|Greivis Vasquez, PG 38 MIN | 5-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 13 PTS | +5
Vasquez was great for a lot of this game, sticking his open looks, and finishing in the post. Then came the fourth quarter, and his legs just looked dead. He kept front-rimming all his floaters and layups. He’s been playing a lot of minutes, and three games in three nights may have gotten to him.
|Jarrett Jack, PG 30 MIN | 5-11 FG | 6-7 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 16 PTS | -2
Jack did what he always does, mixing good offense with out of control drives. I can see why people get angry at him, because when he’s off, it just looks brutal. Flailing, turnovers, bad shots. Still, don’t let that get in the way of the fact he’s a solid combo guard.
|Solomon Jones, C 13 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -11
As always, the best that can be said is Jones can set a mean screen.
|Lance Thomas, F 10 MIN | 0-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -9
Thomas got some nice hustle rebounds out there, but Jamison crushed him two plays in a row in the post after being handled by Ayon for long stretches. He’s just overmatched.
|Al-Farouq Aminu, SF 16 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -9
Yeah, he played.
|Xavier Henry, SG 11 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS | -7
I’ve never seen a guard so reliant on one hand in my life. On his best play of the game, a slick baseline drive, he did two jab steps and a spin move just to get his defender to shift far enough to the right so he could drive left. There was no intention of going right at all. It’s weird.