Stellar Second Half for Hornets leads to 102-81 Rout of Bucks

Published: December 3, 2012

This game was entirely a tale of two halves. It really felt like the Hornets got outplayed in the first half, yet they took a three point lead into halftime purely thanks to the Bucks’ strange inability to make two-point shots. Milwaukee only shot 36.4% (12-33) from inside the 3-point line compared to 51.3% (20-39) for New Orleans. Apart from that, the Bucks made 5 out of 9 attempts from long range (Jennings was 3-4), they out rebounded the Hornets on both ends and got to the line far more frequently.

The second half was an entirely different story. The Hornets became much more disciplined defensively and didn’t give up nearly as many trips to the line; Milwaukee attempted just six free throws in the second half compared to a whopping 17 in the first half. New Orleans also flipped the switch in the rebounding department. In the first half, the Bucks had as many offensive rebounds as the Hornets had defensive rebounds (11). In the second half, however, the Hornets had more offensive rebounds (8) than the Bucks had defensive rebounds (7), quite an impressive turnaround. I asked Joe to find out whether or not these two areas were a point of emphasis in the locker room at halftime, and he was able to get a great response from Coach Monty Williams:

Yeah, we talked about it. Our assistant coaches do a great job of pointing out things like that. Monta and Jennings were attacking the basket and our bigs weren’t stopping the ball, and Randy and Brian Gates, who run our defense, made our guys realize that and understand that if we can stop the ball, then once we force up a tough shot and if we can get everybody to rebound, we can get some easy baskets. The assistant coaches did a great job of emphasizing and reminding guys who we are, what we’re trying to do. We call it game plan discipline. We feel like it’s something that can change from game to game, and when you’re playing guys like Ellis and Jennings, you want to keep those guys out of your paint.


Let’s take a look at the three keys to the game from my preview this afternoon and see how the Hornets did.

1) Take care of the ball, no matter what position you play. Check. The Hornets committed just 12 turnovers as a team – five of them shot clock violations – and allowed only 10 Milwaukee points off of those turnovers, just half of their season average.  The Bucks, on the other hand, committed 16 turnovers which led to 27 points for New Orleans. Great job by the Hornets in this area.

2) Work hard on the defensive glass. From a defensive rebound rate standpoint, the Hornets fared pretty poorly all game long in this regard. New Orleans only pulled down 24 defensive rebounds and allowed 19 offensive rebounds to Milwaukee, which is far from a respectable total. That being said, Monty clearly knew this was a problem based on the quote above and the result was an increased attention to the issue in the second half, so at least adjustments were made.

3) Remain disciplined on defense. Out of all of the halftime adjustments, this one seemed to have the biggest impact. In the first half, the Hornets were not adhering to this key at all, committing 14 fouls which resulted in 17 free throw attempts for the Bucks. In the second half, however, New Orleans fouled Milwaukee 9 times for a total of just 6 free throw attempts. Problem solved, and as a result, the Hornets cruised to their first double-digit victory of the season.


Other notes from tonight’s game:

  • Improved perimeter defense on Dunleavy. Clearly, the Hornets remembered what he did to them in their first meeting two weeks ago. After going 4-7 from long range in Milwaukee, Dunleavy attempted just two 3-point attempts tonight, making one of them. He got a couple open looks, but overall he had a significantly more difficult time getting free tonight than he did during their game in November.
  • Strong game from the Hornets’ bench. This group came to play tonight, outscoring the Bucks’ bench 34-28. Smith led the bench in scoring with 12 points on 12 shots, along with 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. Rivers and Henry struggled (just one Henry made jumper out of 11 field goal attempts), but Roberts and Thomas made up for it, contributing ten points each on just seven and five shots respectively. A case could certainly be made that to this point, the Hornets’ fifth big man (Thomas) has been more consistent than any of the team’s wings. Most impressive of all, perhaps, was that the bench only turned the ball over once in a combined 103 minutes of action.
  • Robin Lopez owned the rim on offense. He consistently put himself in great position down low to either score or grab offensive rebounds (4 total) and turn them into points. His goose egg in the defensive rebound category is fairly frustrating, but given his 21 points on just 10 shots (5-5 from the FT line) and zero turnovers in 23 minutes of action, it would be very difficult to be upset with his all-around performance.
  • I cannot understand why Henry is playing over Miller. It makes absolutely no sense. The one glaring reason is that the Hornets are trying to salvage some trade value out of X, but it’s not going to work, because he is awful. Miller shoots the ball better and plays smarter, so it makes no sense to keep throwing Henry out there only to watch him fail.

Though they have been largely unsuccessful at doing so, the Hornets will try to carry this win over to Wednesday night when they host the dreaded Los Angeles Lakers. Somehow, we’re letting Los Angeles native Jake Madison cover this game, so don’t let him make you too angry with his lack of hatred for the Lake Show. Thanks again to Joe and Andrew for the in-game photos and postgame quotes.


  1. mojart

    December 3, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    good win…love the overall team effort…everybody stepping up and contribute offensively and defensively.

  2. Ken

    December 3, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    I totally agree with your point about Xavier Henry. He is painful to watch. Why not play Miller who is clearly more talented and has more to offer than Henry.

  3. xman20002000

    December 4, 2012 at 1:42 am

    Let’s see how our Bigs play against Dwight Howard… It would be great to bust their a**es…–nba.html

  4. JayDogon

    December 4, 2012 at 2:43 am

    Great win, during the broadcast they reported that Eric Gordon nicknamed Ryan Anderson “The Arsenal” I love the fact that EJ is involved like that but I thought Ryno was a great nickname though I must admit The Arsenal isn’t a bad option. Just an observation Lol, Geaux Hornets!

  5. 504ever

    December 4, 2012 at 2:44 am

    “Lopez shot 8 of 10 from the field and made all five free throws he attempted. He also scored 11 straight points during a pivotal 13-0 run in the third quarter that gave New Orleans the lead for good.” ESPN

    Lopez also raised his season PER up to 19.82. With a league average PER of 15, a PER of 20 makes Lopez a “Border Line All-Star”! (Anderson’s PER is 20.75 for comparision.) Can we get some love for Lopez?

    Can we get some love for our bench players with PERs above average (over 15): Thomas’s 15.6, Smith’s 16, and Robert’s 18? How about for Vasquez’s at 14.9?

    All of these much maligned players seem to be quality pieces for the Hornets. All played well tonight, and were major components in the blow-out victory over a team entering the game with a winning record.

    On the other hand, why are people picking on Henry and not Rivers? They both had horrible stat lines this game, and have the two worst PERS on the team: 4 and 5.7!

    • LLHOPS

      December 4, 2012 at 6:36 am

      “On the other hand, why are people picking on Henry and not Rivers?” The reason is Henry is in his 3rd season and Rivers has played only 16 games of his 1st season. If Rivers is still playing at this level 3 years from now, then plenty of “people will be picking on him.” Although Rivers had a poor game against the Bucks, he has shown improvement this season. On the other hand Henry has no feel for the game. It’s painful to watch him try to be aggressive. Mason is right – Miller should be getting those minutes.

      • 504ever

        December 4, 2012 at 7:26 am


        So you are more concerned with Henry averaging 12.7 minutes this season with a PER of 4 than Rivers averaging 27.3 minutes with a PER of 5.7? And you say Rivers has shown improvement. Improvement to what? A PER of 5.7?

        But don’t take my word on Rivers. Here is today’s Daily Dime at ESPN:

        “Austin Rivers is spending a little more time off the ball, but he’s not particularly adept at finding places to spot up, and not draining shots when he does. More troubling is his inability to convert at the rim. Rivers understands how to use a screen and attack a big defender, but it’s that last line of defense where he confines himself to an impossible angle. We saw this dynamic at work in the second quarter, when Rivers beat the pick-and-roll coverage but had to confront the weakside big, Larry Sanders. There was an available pass to Jason Smith, but one gets the impression Rivers isn’t all that interested in distributing. Rivers’ layup attempt caromed off the upper-right corner of the backboard. “

      • Jason Calmes

        December 4, 2012 at 8:43 am

        Rivers may get better.

        Henry hasn’t shown improvement after mant more games.

        Both perform, but one has the potential to return on your investmement of time.


      • Mason Ginsberg

        December 4, 2012 at 8:17 am

        While I agree that Rivers has been pretty bad on most nights, I think the age argument holds some weight, and let’s be honest here – if not Rivers, who? Giving 32 year old Roger Mason Jr. 30+ minutes a night does nothing to benefit the this franchise down the road, and it’s not like he’s THAT much better than Rivers anyway. The fact is that, plain and simple, the Hornets are just very thin at the guard positions, and will have to give heavy minutes to sub-par players until Gordon returns. For the sake of the team’s future, I’d rather see Vasquez, Roberts, and Rivers get those minutes than Vasquez, Roberts and Mason (unless the Mason we’re talking about is me, of course). Do you disagree?

      • 504ever

        December 4, 2012 at 10:05 am

        My problem with the potential argument is you can always make it with any player. With Rivers I am not seeing the improvement on a consistent basis. He is better one night, worse or the same on most others, all while playing with a cumulative PER nearly 10 points below average.

        Rivers is a guy who was a questionable pick at 10 and he has struggled the entire season except for maybe one game. All we are left with is “he is young so maybe he gets better”. That is scary because he may not.

        I invite anyone to go read the Daily Dime comments about other rookies and compare them to the comments about Rivers. (It’s not just me.)

        Mason, I am not saying Rivers shouldn’t play. But where is the concern over his quality of play? His lack of improvement while playing at this low level? I bet his stats, including advanced stats, are horrible even compared to current and past rookies. My whole point in bringing up playing time was to show how much worse River’s affect on the team’s play was than Henry’s because Rivers plays so much longer.

      • Mason Ginsberg

        December 4, 2012 at 11:32 am

        I have a great deal of concerns over the quality of his play. I haven’t brought it up because, to be brutally honest, I expressed those concerns in detail before (and immediately after) the Hornets drafted him. If guess I was surprised, I’d be making a bigger deal out of it than I am. He is only 19 though and I do think he can improve, so given the lack of healthy talent at his position elsewhere, the only reasonable solution is for him to keep playing and hope he can turn a corner. One thing I will say to his credit though is that his ball-handling skills are well above Mason and Henry’s, so when teams game plan for the Hornets by pressuring their guards, he can be helpful in that regard.

    • LLHOPS

      December 4, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      I was probably one of the least enthusiastic Hornet fans when we drafted Rivers. My expectations were pretty low. However what I like after only 16 games is he works very hard and plays through some of these minor injuries. I’m really not worried about his offense. He looks awkward at times but this appears to happen because he’s pressing and not letting the game come to him. He’s got a ways to go on defense but he’s a one & done rookie with only 16 pro games behind him. Rivers upside is much higher than Henry.

  6. Snow

    December 4, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Biggest thing I was proud of was how hard the bench played! Even Thomas had 10 points! Our front court is a killer! Imagine in a couple years when their chemistry is even higher! I cannot agree with you more about X getting more PT than Miller. Miller has shown he’s versatile. He shows a lot of effort for even rebounding, trying to get steals and defending. Plus he can actually shoot compared to X. I can’t wait till our team is healthy

  7. Durtnificent

    December 4, 2012 at 9:20 am

    I was hoping for a win last night against The Bucks (esp. with the crap talking I had to hear about with the guys in my work section and at the gym), but I wasn’t expecting the beating that the score indicated. I wasn’t able to watch the game last night (stupid blackout) but the 2 things that stood out to me in the box score was Lance Thomas getting 10 and Jason Smith getting 3 steals (2 from Sanders late in the 4th I believe).

    But on the rebound note, Gerry V spoke on teams spreading us out which causes us to have to rebound out of their respective zones, Did the Bucks try to do the same as well and we sacrificed rebounding for better perimeter defence or on ball defence as a whole?

  8. Melvin E

    December 4, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Henry is a guard who can’t shoot has slow lateral movement and doesn’t help our team whatsoever, with Miller you get a bigger body who plays aggressively on defense and rebounds well on occasions. Also he can knock down the open shot. If they aren’t going to trade Henry soon Monty needs to let him rack up the DNP-Coaches Decision

  9. Ben

    December 4, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Breaking news: the hornets are expected to change their name to the pelicans per bleacher report.

  10. xman20002000

    December 5, 2012 at 12:29 am

    We are a team on hold without Eric Gordon… And it looks like Coach has asseceded to playing Rivers off the bench… Now wouldn’t it be so much better with him playing behind and off a talent level like Gordon.. But Rivers needs to find his shot and his game at this level.. He was dominate, a Type A personality, on all levels although limited to high school and one year of college… Now he is in a different class of player and he is a boy feeling his way in a man’s game…

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