Hornets Defense Swarms the Bulls in the Windy City
Hornets walk into the United Center without Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis, but walk out of there with a victory
Last night the Chicago Bulls shot 66% in the first half as they raced out to a twenty point lead. Tonight, the Hornets made them work for everything and the result was a field goal percentage that was slashed in half, as the Bulls shot just 33% (29-88) in this game. The Bulls did grab 15 rebounds, but when you take into consideration the fact that they missed 59 shots, I would call that a victory for a Hornets team missing Anthony Davis. Anderson was a monster on the boards, grabbing 13 total (10 defensive), while Aminu and Lopez chipped in with 6 and 7, respectively.
New Orleans raced out to an early lead, as Chicago turned it over eight times in the first seven minutes, but the Hornets didn’t step on their throat when the opportunity was there. Instead, they took some bad shots and Marco Belinelli got hot at the end of the first, pulling the Bulls to within three at the end of the first frame. The second quarter saw the Bulls take the lead and for a while there it looked like they were going to pull away. With 25 seconds left, the Bulls were up four before a sequence occured that changed the momentum of the game.
Nate Robinson raced down the floor and put up a layup that Austin Rivers chased down and blocked from behind. The ball ricocheted off the glass and into Darius Miller’s hands, who handed it to Rivers. He raced up court to find a wide-open Greivis Vasquez behind the arc. Swish. Nate Robinson raced back up the court, hoping to atone for the last play and missed a 22-footer. Ryan Anderson rebound, outlet pass to Vasquez, pull up three. Swish. Just like that, instead of going into the half down 46-40, the Hornets were up 46-44. Eight point swing in twenty five seconds. The Hornets came out in the third with a 14-8 run that gave them a comfortable lead that they never surrendered.
– Before those two made three’s at the end of the half, Vasquez was 0-7, and six of those misses led to transition opportunities for the Bulls, as they scored 13 points on fast breaks following Vasquez misses in the first half. His misses often came off long and Vasquez did not get back in transition, so the result was multiple three-on-ones that led to 2, and sometimes 3 points.
– Jason Smith was the game MVP, hands down. 16 points on just five shots and two blocks in just 16 minutes. His numbers were fantastic, but he gets this honor from me because he made the play that won the game for the Hornets. The Rivers play was nice, but that came in the second quarter. This came with 3:02 in the fourth quarter, Hornets up four and struggling to find any offense. Greivis ran a pick and pop with Ryan Anderson, who shorted a contested three. Three Bulls stood in the paint ready to grab the board, but Smith tipped the ball out of their hands, gathered it after it hit the ground and put it back up for a six point lead. The way the Hornets were performing offensively at that point, it would have been tough for them to close out Chicago if they had gone down and cut the lead to one or two. Huge play, highly efficient, and constantly rotating and contesting shots on defense. You sir, are game MVP.
– Smith was fantastic in the fourth and won this game for the Hornets, but Robin Lopez and Al-Farouq Aminu were my co-MVP’s of the first half. When either of these guys try to create their own offense, it is painful to watch, but when they let others create for them, they are fantastic at finishing. The two combined to score 24 points on 16 shots, shooting 11-17 from the field. But make no mistake, it was their defense that will make Monty smile in the film room tomorrow. Aminu was everywhere once again, rotating beautifully and contesting everything. Lopez, meanwhile, had four big blocks and changed another half a dozen shots in the paint tonight. There is a reason Carlos Boozer shot 1-8 from the field, and that reason’s name is Robin Lopez.
– Austin Rivers had, by far, his best game as a Hornet, but that’s not really saying much. Offensively, we saw flashes, including a one minute stretch in the third quarter that featured a beautiful drive to the bucket, followed by a pull-up 17 footer. He was much improved on the defensive end, finding his way through screens all night long as Rip Hamilton ran him ragged. There is no doubt that he can play the point in this league, as he showed himself to be a much better ball handler than Vasquez. He just needs to develop a jumper that teams will respect, and once he does that, lanes will begin to open up. If you missed the game, check out the Austin Rivers highlight reel.
– Ryan Anderson was forced to take shots in this game that he would never take had Davis and/or Gordon been on the court, but such is life for an offensive minded player on the court with a collection of below average offensive players. He tried to force the action a couple of times and the result was either a turnover or a poorly missed shots, but if we are talking about plays of the night, Ryno had one of his own. Anderson chased down a missed shot on the offensive end, saved it right before he went out of bounds and then came back on the court, spotted up in the corner for three and drained it. A ball that should have gone out of bounds, and to the Bulls, instead ends up in Anderson’s hands and results in three points for the Hornets.
– Checking out the advanced box score, you can see that Turnovers and Rebounds were a bit of a problem, but Lopez and Aminu anchored a defense that kept us in the game. And while Lopez was a beast down low, Jason Smith actually had a higher block %. And for all the praise we have given Aminu, and rightfully so, he still had a TO% of 33.3- which is two time higher than what he average last year when he led the league. Meanwhile, Austin Rivers steal % (4.7) was fantastic.
– Hornets don’t play again until Wednesday, and if history is any indicator, we won’t know until 5:00 PM that day whether Davis will be in the lineup. Williams was furious over the NBA concussion rules that prevented Davis from playing tonight, a game that would have been a homecoming for Davis. My guess is that he is back in practice Monday or Tuesday and he plays on Wednesday, but with head injuries you just never know.
I have a good idea for title of the next podcast: "In the No Podcast Episode 93: Aminu Makes Us Eat Our Words". Or how about "Lopez aint as bad as we thought". Seriously though im shocked and estatic about the way the hornets have performed thus far. Makes me think we maybe seeing the playoffs this year if EG gets some heart. If he wants to be traded he has to play some games. I dont want him gone but if he cant play thru minimum pain for the good of the team he has to go. Kobe would never sit out 4-6 weeks just because his knee was sore. This is coming from the #1 Laker Hater. Get well soon Brow!!
I try to not get too high or too low on this Hornet team, being that we have just a 3-game sample size, but there are some early observations that can be drawn from the start of the season. My biggest observation is that, if you're a Hornets fan, you have to love the way our team plays. Wins and losses are ultimately how a team is judged and I get that, but this season should be more about establishing an identity than about actual wins and losses. If I had to put the Hornets' early identity into words, it would read like this, "We may be out-athleted, and we may be out-talented, but we will not be out-hustled or out-worked." That, to me, is a team that I can easliy cheer for. Make no mistake about it, this team will lose its fair share of games this year. Its part of the learning process, but if they can just maintain this style of play and this identity, you will see this young team endear itself to this community like no other Hornet team ever has.
Loving this team. The intensity and heart that Monty got out of his guys all last season has carried over to this season. What makes this all very encouraging is we have better and improved personnel with tons of potential. Going into the Madhouse on Madison and coming out with a good win is very encouraging. Can't wait for Wednesday!
Was on bourbon street last night and looked good to see the hornets on tv in some bars even with the lsu game on..geaux hornets
Damn, this team would looks so good with a good SG in the lineup...Imagine how good we would be if he have someone like...mmmm...Marco Bellinelli and his3pt prowess, lol! Dont tell me you didnt miss Marco for at least those 3 on fire minutes he got in the end of the first Q. Great win, cant wait till next game!
The heart of this team is uncanny. I love watching Monty out coach Tibs & our guys out hustle the Bulls after their big Cavs win. With Davis back, this team is a playoff contender. If Eric Gordon ever comes back and is relevant in any way, this team could be better than that. RoLo, Smitty, Chief, GV, Ryno and Miller Time were all in BEEst mode tonight. Mase and Rivers did some nice things as well. And even Dayton got to hit some free throws. Great game.
Your description of Anderson's day is exactly why he isn't an elite player. Glad he's on the team we don't win against the Jazz without him, but he's a good player not great and most certainly not elite. Really have to take your hat of the M.Williams. This team is playing to their max capacity right now. Stealing wins early will be good for the moral of the team the season progresses and in the future seasons.
great game by the hornets.....i hope they play everday......:).......they are exciting to watch.....rivers is showing he is improving every game...we just defeated 2 of 3 playoff contenders in the NBA.
I'm honestly happy to give rivers as much playing time as he can take (30-35 mins) so he can get as much time playing both guard spots as possible. Only guard that can create a shot, and runs the offense better than roberts already.
I haven't commented on here in a while. I remember back in the summer that Jason said changes were coming to the site. Have those already started, or have they not?
This much improved version of Lopez and Aminu with the additions of Rivers, AD, Ryno can really take us back to the playoffs this year.
A great road win. I see that Vasquez is doing a real good job in running some of the sets. If he can reduce his turnovers, he will be a decent PG in the NBA. I am glad we picked up the option for his 4th year. Some of us had big reservations on the acquisition of Robin Lopez. (Was that you Mike?) I have always thought that we should give the guy some time. After 3 regular season games, I think We can simply say that He is not as bad as some of us thought. :) Right?
Here's where stat lines can/do lie: we lost AST -8, STL -4, TO -4. Lost points in the paint, too, but don't know how much. JSmith 8-8 FT was ice; Arnold Schwarzenegger called and wants his freeze suit back . Wouldn't have happened last year (but he would have tried). Don't forget Roger Mason's 8 pts on 3 shots. From the radio it seemed that he made some important plays late.
Great win but I just have to say that Roger Mason Jr. takes some frustrating, rookie-like shots for the team veteran. But back to the positive, I love Jason Smith; and it's nice to see some Lopez love around here. He was a stud tonight, too.
I think you underestimate Vasquez role in the team. He is consolidating as a solid player night after night.
Our new Big 3 -- Lopez, Aminu, Jason Smith; not to be confused with our original Big 3 -- Davis, Anderson, Gordon; or other Big 3 -- GV, Aminu, Anderson; or our alternate Big 3 -- Davis, Lopez, Smith; or ... oh never mind......