Hornets lead wire to wire, down Cavaliers

Published: February 22, 2012
New Orleans Hornets 89 Final
Recap | Box Score
84 Cleveland Cavaliers

The Hornets win on the back of hustle plays. It’s a cliche, but they wanted it more.

Five Things We Saw

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.


  1. Ron

    February 22, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    No C who makes 40% of 25 shots should be allowed in a pro auditorium. EVER. Even when the pros aren’t playing.

    • NOH Domination

      February 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      Are we talking about Kobe here?

      • Ron

        February 25, 2012 at 12:26 pm

        Kobe is not a Center.

  2. Nick

    February 23, 2012 at 12:05 am

    I know we aren’t going to make the playoffs this year, but we will have a pretty interesting race to watch at the end of the season … Higher percentage by the end of the year: Hornets’ likelihood of winning the NBA Draft or Chris Kaman’s shooting percentage?

  3. Rocco

    February 23, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Box to wire….. Ayon is very nible for a big guy.Keeps his head on a swivel sees the open pass and can instictively deliver the ball in the lane. Expect to see more high-low offense with GUstavo looking for cutters and the other hornets bigs on the low block cuts.

    Very happy for Marco. he moves off of screens and cuts and lets the shots come to him from within the offense. Durng the past six games (four wins, and one of the two losses in overtime) he has been the Hornets most efficient player on offense getting his shots from the flow of the ball movement. Belissimo!

  4. C.C.

    February 23, 2012 at 12:51 am

    21 pts, 13 rebs, 3 ast and 2 blks for Kaman tonight. Way to go Chris! Keep improving your trade value!

    Also, I absolutely LOVE the way Beli’s been playing lately. Fun fact: Over the last 5 games, Beli is averaging 16.6 ppg while shooting 55% from the field, 57% from deep, and 100% from the stripe. Damn. Beli has EARNED the right to come back next year as Gordon’s backup.

    Great win guys. Geaux Hornets!

    • NO-CHI

      February 23, 2012 at 12:07 pm

      Take fewer shots in the process, 25 shots, hitting 10 of them. He took enough shots to have a 50-Point Game, only getting 20 points out of them. (I’m assuming he didn’t make a 3)
      20 out of a possible 50—- Bad
      20 out of a possible 75 —- Even worse

      • Ron

        February 25, 2012 at 12:29 pm


        A Center having the ability shoot jumpers is A Good Thing. A Center *relying* on his jumper is A Very Very Bad Thing.

  5. Tyler

    February 23, 2012 at 12:57 am

    I want the organization to keep Chris Kaman and sign him to a long-term deal. He’s been a very effective player for us. Also, Marco Belinelli needs to be re-signed. The guy has talent and is improving by each game.

  6. D$

    February 23, 2012 at 1:40 am

    nice win! did u know the hornets are only 10 games out of the playoffs…haha i kid, but i like jack off the bench 😉 gives nice scoring punch, hornets could have a mean bench next year!

    Vasquez/jack good scoring guard 6th man..jannero pargo of 08′ 🙂
    Gordon/belly, yeah they should bring him back
    Ariza/aminu/barnes if drummond doesn’t come out
    landry(hope hes back too)/ayon/tyler zeller

    solid team next year and could grow together. drummond and zeller aren’t my fav draft picks but that’s what epsns mock draft seems to think we will take, i would assume barnes or kidd-gilcrist would be taken by the hornets if drummond doesn’t come out

    • D$

      February 23, 2012 at 1:43 am

      forgot to mention that I’m sure the hornets will make some trades (kaman) so you could throw that into the lineup mix too, but who knows what they’ll get!

      • simon

        February 23, 2012 at 6:04 pm

        There’s no way barnes would be the third SF in that rotation. If they pick him up we can pretty much say goodbye to Ariza.. Can’t have two 6th men on one team..

  7. chiefyoungblood

    February 23, 2012 at 3:20 am

    we all know Aminu can be a chore to watch ( I mean at this point i’d rather watch him miss a three than pump fake it half drive pull it back drive into traffic again ) but we also all know he shows surprising flashes out of nowhere ( quick hands around the basket , hops , rebounding , and not a terrible stroke when he actually commits to a jump shot). don’t get me wrong he’s bad , but i’m still curious what a real year with practice and off days with Monty could do for his game , its very hard to judge his development in this kind of year and isn’t he exactly the kind of guy Monty can work with . I know , the thought just crossed my mind the other day for the first time since the trade.

    p.s who’s gonna own us , we know its pretty much done but does anyone know for sure who , Dunleavy group ?? Guess I don’t really care to much as long as they keep Monty and Dell and make sure its the Kings going to Seattle and not us .

    Gustavo es el corazón de los Hornets

    • Hkc

      February 23, 2012 at 6:34 am

      We aren’t using aminu correctly. The dude destroyed us cause they ran on us. He is dangerous on the break. He is by far one of the most athletic players in the game. We’ve seen the way he throws it down. We have to wait one offseason before we judge him.

      • Everett

        February 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm

        Yeah, Hornets are not set up to use Aminu’s current skill set. Aminu’s speed and athleticism could be effective on a team that runs a lot, but we play at the 2nd slowest pace in the league. He certainly needs to become more decisive and confident, but pace has something to do with his lack of offensive efficiency during the 1st half of the season. On the bright side, because he plays for a team that likes playing half-court basketball, it gives him a chance to develop a more well-rounded, nuanced game.

    • Everett

      February 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      I hope it’s Benson who buys us, he’s already shown a willingness to hire good people, spend money, and get out of the way.

      Definitely hope it’s not Dunleavy. He was a pretty bad GM when he was with the Clippers, and as coach he couldn’t lead a talent-laden Blazer team to the finals. I really question his basketball-decision making and as a former coach, he would probably be a meddlesome owner.

      Indifferent about Chouest. I do wonder if the new owner will bring in his own GM. I like Dell and would ideally like to stick with him, but if they bring in a new GM, it’d be awesome to have Kevin Pritchard.

      • Ron

        February 25, 2012 at 12:30 pm

        I didn’t think that either league allowed cross-ownership.

      • Jason Calmes

        February 25, 2012 at 9:39 pm

        It’s allowed in some cases and wuth approval. NFL owners can own ‘little’ teams anywhere or ‘big’ teams that are in nonNFL cities or in that owner’s NFL market.

        If approved.

  8. Ian H

    February 23, 2012 at 3:23 am

    Ryan I’m happy you noticed the two Kaman forced shots with a WIDE open red hot Marco sitting in the corner like he did the previous night in overtime with a red hot Ariza in the corner on 2 consecutive possessions. I’m screaming “swing the ball, make the extra pass” but Kaman and Jack feel that they are the vets and “leaders” and can take horrible jumpers. The fact that they go in sometimes doesn’t make them the proper basketball decisions but it verifies to them that it’s ok to jack up those shots. But I’m happy they got the win, and I hope Aminu continues to gain confidence and finish at the rim strong like he has lately.

  9. DownUnder

    February 23, 2012 at 4:18 am

    I got a Dunk that sh@t!!! question although its probably a lame one, ‘has Marco’s recent hot streak making him a valuable trade asset at the deadline, if so would the Hornets even look to deal him and what could they get.’ If one of you guys wanted to respond in detail or just give a quick reply answer here it’d be appreciated.

    • Hkc

      February 23, 2012 at 6:37 am

      We don’t deal him. If he keeps up consistent shooting, he is more than a capable back up to Gordon. I feel that the bench needs to pick up the pace a bit to fully appreciate what our bench can do. Imagine Vasquez feeding aminu and Henry after an offseason of actual training camp.

      • DownUnder

        February 23, 2012 at 6:54 am

        See I ask the question just because 1, we do have other players like Xazier to play back-up minutes if he shows he’s worth it, plus the spill over from vasquez and Jack with some time going to SG between the two so essentially when Gordon returns it leaves one man out. 2, the dude has shown good spurts in the past and heck he’s a good shooter but streaky so this means we could sell high atm before he possibly goes through another cold spell. 3, And i say this admitting that I cant watch the games, is that he is barely passable on defense from what iv heard here so does he really bring much more than effecient scoring? And thats when he’s playing well like this.
        By no means am i hating on the guy, he would make a very nice back-up SG for the foreseeable futue but the points above just suggest that maybe trading him could bring some more value to a position of need, or another 1st rounder.

      • 504ever

        February 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm

        I like the question, but what do you think you will get for Belinelli? Without a contract for next year, what do you think you a team will pay to rent Belinelli for the rest of this season? I don’t think it is much.

        Also, Bellinelli is more valuable to the Hornets because he has worked to fit his game into their offensive and defensive systems. That’s why he is good candidate to be resigned.

        Remember Belinelli was signed around the time of the CP3 trade. So it could have easily been that managment brought him back to back-up Gordon for $3.4M for one year.

        I could see Belinelli getting a Jason Smith like deal this summer: 2-3 years at $2.5-3M/year level. The Hornets have locked in some key bench players at reasonable salaries: Smith, Vasquez, and Henry. Belinelli seems next in line to me. (I would put Ayon on that list but I can’t find his contract figues on-line to see how long we have him lock-up for.)

      • simon

        February 23, 2012 at 6:17 pm

        Ayon is on a 3 year 4 million contract I believe.

        At least something close to 1.3 a year for the next three years

  10. Lucas Ottoni

    February 23, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Kaman can not be traded. This is very clear to me. He is a center much higher than Okafor, and the Hornets are a team much better when the German is on the court. I’m really enjoying the double that Kaman has been doing with Ayon. We could trade Mek and send as a gift the terrible Aminu.

  11. Lucas Ottoni

    February 23, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Here in Rio, during Hornets @ Cavs, we had a great classic of our soccer. Flamengo vs Vasco da Gama. Look at this, my friends:



  12. Gaiking

    February 23, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    These meaningless wins are going to come back to bite us at the end of this season. At this rate we will end up with a pick between 5-8.

    • 504ever

      February 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      If we end up picking 5-8 it will be because other teams were lucky with their pingpong balls. We are looking at a 19.9% lottery chance with the worse pick being 5th (finishing 2nd to last) or a 15.6% lottery chance with the worse pick being 6th (finishing 3rd to last)

      The other bad teams are in the East where they play each other; that should help us finish low as long as the wins in those games are somewhat spread around among those teams.

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