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Another poor 3rd quarter leads to 96-84 Hornets loss to Jazz

Published: November 28, 2012

In the second meeting of the season between Utah and New Orleans, the Hornets were not as fortunate as they were in the first, falling at home to the Jazz.

Make no mistake, this game was a rough one from the start; the Jazz just decided not to take advantage until the second half. The Hornets made a run in the fourth, cutting the 16 point deficit to just 7, but that’s as close as they could get. Before we go any further, let’s look at my keys to the game from earlier today and see how the Hornets fared.

1) Keep Al Jefferson out of his comfort zone. Um, not so much. Lopez had his ups and downs on Jefferson defensively (a few more downs than ups), but Smith was clearly over-matched. The Hornets’ bigs did do a good job of keeping him off of the free throw line (only 2 attempts in the game), but the same can’t be said for many of the other Jazz players.

I asked Robin Lopez after the game about the difference in guarding Al Jefferson between their game in early November and this one. He told me that he was just not as disciplined while defending him. He thought that because he bit on pump fakes and got in foul trouble early (2 fouls in the game’s first 7 1/2 minutes), he became less aggressive against Jefferson later on, which he seemed to regret.

2) Box out on defense and limit Utah offensive rebounds. The Hornets actually did quite well in this area. For the game, their offensive rebound rate was somewhere between 10-15%, well under their season average of 32.1% before tonight’s game. Unfortunately, the Jazz shot 49.2% from the field in this one, compared to just 41.2% in their first meeting against the Hornets, so the offensive rebounds weren’t as crucial to their offense overall.

3) Get Ryan Anderson shooting and the guards attacking early. Not really. Anderson’s hot shooting from long range as of late came to a screeching halt, finishing just 1-6 from beyond the arc and only 7 points overall. As for the guards, Vasquez deserves credit for his commitment to attacking the paint with the slower Tinsley on him, but he couldn’t turn his drives into points. He struggled to get past the Jazz front line, and when he kicked out to shooters as a result, they couldn’t knock shots down. None of the other Hornets guards did much to help in this respect, either, until Brian Roberts in the 4th quarter.


New Orleans went 1-3 in my 3 keys to the game, so it comes as no surprise to me that the end result was a loss. The game doesn’t just boil down to those 3 areas, though; where else did the Hornets go wrong?

  • The third quarter. First things first – not scoring a single point for the first 6:51 of a quarter is never a good sign. The Hornets turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, and nearly doubled that total (9) in the third quarter alone. The result was a 31-17 deficit in the period after trailing by just two at halftime, putting the game basically out of reach. For the Jazz, Marvin Williams and Paul Millsap combined to  match the entire Hornets team’s total for the quarter.
  • Getting to the line. The Jazz shot 17 more free throws than the Hornets, making 28 of their 38 attempts compared to 17 out of 21 for New Orleans. This discrepancy came largely due to Utah’s dedication to keep getting the ball inside to their strong front line, whereas the Hornets settled for more jump shots.
  • Foul trouble for Anderson. Ryan picked up his 4th foul just over halfway through the 3rd quarter, which may have made it more difficult for him to get into any kind of groove on offense.
  • Travel woes. Greivis Vasquez mentioned after the game that while he didn’t want to make excuses, he thought it was pretty apparent that the Hornets’ young guys were struggling to maintain a high level of energy after returning from a long NBA road trip. Hopefully, the 2 days off before their game against the Thunder on Saturday night will help get the team back on track.

To end this recap on a positive note, there were a few good things to take away from this game:

  • Strong offensive 4th quarter. As usual for a Monty Williams-coached team, the Hornets never quit. Led by Brian Roberts’ 9 points in the quarter, the Hornets cut the Jazz lead to 7. Most impressive may have been the fact that, after committing 9 turnovers in the 3rd quarter, they didn’t cough the ball up once in the 4th. On an entirely unrelated note, Al-Farouq Aminu didn’t play one minute in the 4th.
  • Solid offensive nights from Lopez and Vasquez. Lopez finished with 18 points on only 9 field goal attempts to go along with 7 rebounds (3 offensive). He was active inside whenever he was in the game, and had yet another good game against Utah as a result. Greivis wasn’t as efficient as Robin when shooting the ball (18 points on 15 shots), but he did rack up 8 assists while only committing one turnover.
  • Sharp-shooting from the stripe. The Hornets continue to be among the league’s best in free throw percentage, coming into the game shooting 79.4% from the stripe (5th in the NBA). That number won’t be hurt by their effort tonight, making 17 out of 21 (81%).

After two days of rest, the Hornets will face off against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night, aiming for better results than in the two teams’ first meeting, when OKC won 110-95.


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