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EJ slices and Dices, Hornets rally from 21 down and Win

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Published: December 29, 2012
Eric Gordon

We’ve been calling out Vasquez for months on this blog, and Michael and I have been speculating on the Vasquez-Gordon pairing on the podcast that entire time, both of us salivating at the idea of the two working together.  Tonight, we got to see them in both situations, and you can already see how much better EJ makes Vasquez – and how having Vasquez’s knock-down spot-up shooting and crafty dribble drives help Gordon too.

Flat out, it’s great to see how this team can operate with an explosive guard in crunchtime.

Eric Gordon

24 points on 12 shots.  14 free throws.   Penetration on play after play.  There simply wasn’t much the Bobcats could do to slow Gordon down when he got a head of steam going.   He was getting past the first line of defense, and drawing a second defender – or a third.  The result was him delivering a patented eurostep around a Bobcat help defender for a layup – or finding the uncovered shooters.

The set play the end the third was everything I had wished for in the off-season.  Smith set the high screen, Gordon explodes into the middle, Mason and Vasquez are in the corners, Ryan Anderson on the wing.  Gordon draws half the Bobcats team, and now he has three wide open options, as one Bobcat stays home on Mason.  Drop the ball back to Smith for a pop, whip it to Vasquez in the corner or Ryan Anderson on the wing.  Henderson, the lone Bobcat left to try and guard both Vasquez and Anderson understandably shades towards Anderson.  Whip pass to Vasquez, open shot.  Bottom.

Later, they’d execute a variation on this play twelve more times(with Davis rather than Smith), resulting in open shots for Mason(twice), Anderson and Vasquez, one turnover, two baskets, four free throws and one miss for Gordon, and twice for Vasquez to catch the ball on a kick-out and drive for an easy basket because the Bobcats were already scrambling.

Amazing what the team looks like with an explosive guard.

Of course, we can’t ignore the first half.

Transition Defense

In my keys to the game in the Preview, my first Key was protecting the ball and defending in transition.  They managed the first bit, only giving away the ball 4 times in the first half – but their transition defense was desperately bad.  Rivers, Vasquez, Lance Thomas, Mason, Henry, McGuire – all of them were getting roasted in transition as Kemba Walker, Ramon Sessions and especially Michael Kidd-Gilchrist were exploding up the court on every long rebound and blocked shot and recorded 19 fast break points in the half. Combine that with Kidd-Gilchrist playing out of position at power forward and torching Anderson, Anthony Davis and Lance Thomas off the dribble, and the Bobcats opened a 21 point lead.

The Hornets wing players were just so damn slow compared to what the Bobcats had out there.  It was embarassing.  Maybe Aminu?  Of course, that just kills us in the half court defensively.  Maybe a new small forward?

Other observations

  • The Hornets small forwards combined for 11 shots, 6 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 2 steals, 3 turnovers, and five fouls.  In 36 minutes.  I wonder why Monty was going with 3-guard line-ups?
  • Roger Mason as a three-point spot up shooter?  Isn’t that what we hoped he’d be?  Tonight, he got to do that playing off the creative talents of Gordon and Vasquez.  No need to try to be a pick and roll ballhandler.  Good stuff.
  • Anthony Davis had a so-so game on the offensive end, struggling to hold position.  Defensively, however, he got three blocks, changed about 6 other shots, and should have gotten credit for at least one steal.
  • Austin Rivers started off strong, attacking and passing for assists.  Then the Bobcats switched the speedy Kemba Walker onto him and he couldn’t get anything done.  His bad transition defense and refusal to let fly on two open threes got him benched for the rest of the game.   With Gordon around, his rope is going to be shorter.  There’s no question about it.
  • I saw Ryan Anderson uncovered more times tonight than I usually do in three games.  Part of that is the Bobcats defense.  Part of that is having an explosive guard.  The thought makes me drool with excitement.
  • Jason Smith couldn’t stop the fouling tonight.  Not all his fault, but sometimes the energy bites you.
  • I still love Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.  Motor and Fire.

 

64 comments
Jacob Williams
Jacob Williams

I love knowing the frint office knows how to actually build a team. In an ideal world without injuries etc., the pieces mesh. It might seem obvious, but look at Sacramento.

Lucas Ottoni
Lucas Ottoni

Now we have Eric Gordon. So... TRADE BUSTIN RIVERS, PLEASE!

NOLA_P
NOLA_P

Don't you think we should wait to see if Gordon can play more than 9 games before trading away our young combo guard! That would be idiotic, unless you can get something good from the deal. Has Rivers shown anything to a team to trade for him in the first place! I see Gordon and Rivers as more of combo guards! Both can play either guard position and will shine once Rivers gets more experience and strength. Rivers has a ton of talent, but just came out of college too early. He should of stayed in school, but Duke was not a good fit for his skill set. We need a small forward, but trading Rivers is not gonna get you anything good right now. We will either get one around the trade deadline with our 1st pick and a player with more experience or get one in free agency next offseason. I hope for the free agency route and draft the best player available regardless of position.

Josh
Josh

Why?

xman20002000
xman20002000

We need to shed the SF pretenders... Vasquez is playing SF is so bad... or they are so bad..

Lucas Ottoni
Lucas Ottoni

Why? Because we need a SF. And Roger Mason can be the replace of Gordon. It's that simple.

Chris W
Chris W

Well that was fun. It's like a brand new team. Can't wait to be in the Arena Tuesday night to see how the new look Hornets can compete against a legitimate NBA contender.

Bombay
Bombay

I like what Monty is doing with Aminu..Bench him and see if he responds..Rivers will benefit from seeing Gordon play and hitting the weight room...Lets see how the team does now at full strength for the next couple of games...It still feels like we have a gaping hole at SF tho..

xman20002000
xman20002000

Aminu, Thomas, McGuire, and Miller.. and I guess Henry is supposed to be a SG/SF... Now that a lot of bodies.. Aminu is on when he is hot and in the right scheme.. Thomas... but any any of them average 10ppg..

xman20002000
xman20002000

I wonder if any of you saw EG play last season... Judging by the comments many of you were hatin because someone else did... But this guy can ball and he exposes those who can't... I don't understand why Coach won't play Aminu... I know he looks lost and aloof.. LOL.. He has his moments where you wonder whether he has missed his TV program or just thinks its a nice day... But let's see how he plays with EG a former team mate... Miller should have been upset seeing his former team mates ball while he was on the bench... I sorta defer to coach considering his has 5 kids... and young ones... now that's crisis management when you are home... Good Luck Coach....

Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith

How does EJ playing more games than Rose have any relation?

Ron
Ron

I wonder if any of you saw EG play last season… Not often... But this guy can ball and he exposes those who can’t… When he's on the court. Which is... not often. :(

xman20002000
xman20002000

The point is... I think EG has played more games this season than Derrick Rose...

Ron
Ron

What happened to the Bobcats' transition offense in the 2nd half? Did the Hornets step up on D?

Venreader
Venreader

Calling out...that´s too little to say, you have been trashing him the whole season. Be serious Mr. Swan, Mr. Mcnamara, you should apologize to Vasquez.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

Right, like how Ryan and I have said time and time again that the Hornets have the worst collection of SF's in the league. Look, I have no clue what you want. If it would make your day brighter for us to say that Vasquez is great, we can do that for you. If you want my honest opinion, though, I think he is a bottom tier starter or a top tier backup and I have seen absolutely nothing to disprove that theory. But yes, our SG's and SF's (without EG) are far worse. Nobody has ever debated that. Ever.

Ron
Ron

How many games the Hornets could have won ... if we had an elite SF? I'd be happy just a serviceable SF. :(

Lucas Ottoni
Lucas Ottoni

You're talking about the great Greivis Vasquez, but I'm concerned with is Lance Thomas being our starter (SF). That's cause for concern. How many games the Hornets could have won (and you wouldn't blame Vasquez) if we had an elite SF?

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

If Vasquez were only taller and bigger, he'd be a good SF, but he isn't. See, that's Vasquez's fault, too The above is an example of going out of one's way to disparage Vasquez. The rest of this garbage is made up persecution. Stay on topic for sake of your fellow readers, even if they are not commenting.

Venreader
Venreader

Dear 504ever. I accept any opinion. But also point out my criticism to help commentators make a better job. I think main commentators distracted opinion from hornets’ real problems and picked Vasquez as the main hornets cause of losing games (SF &SG). Moreover they always diminished Vasquez accomplishments. E.g. CP3 with a triple double no problem, Vasquez with a near tipple double, well he was lucky the rebounds came to him, or hornets shooters are very good, other team defenders were weak, etc. That’s why I think commentators should at least try to be fairer. Another E.g.: According to commentators Vasquez had a statistically great game but he wasn´t playing good enough, just to right away use statistics to prove he is not great, that is sherry picking stats and not being consistent in the analysis. I think you have a pre conception of what Vasquez and where he will get at, there is no benefit of doubt. I am not saying Vasquez is as talented as Gordon, nor that he is a top ten guard, but he had been improving without Gordon on the court, and hopefully will keep improving, but commentators never devoted as much time paying attention to what it means for a PG and specially the whole NOLA team to play with current SF or SG (except Gordon) as they did saying Vasquez was selfish... that is what I am talking about being fair. I think other people also noticed that bias. Finally I think all the main commentators are higly knowledgeable to the game, which give them the burden of responsibility on what they say, because they create opinion, they guide. I appreciate and admire their effort, but please not play to be God with players, please be more humble, recognize sometimes your mistakes, that makes people a better person. I apologize if my words seems offensive to you or anyone in this blog.

Jack
Jack

Hi 504ever, I stand with Venreader. I can live with fair argument like saying GV has limitation. I don't think doubting someone is 'selfish' or picking up false evidence is fair. For the false evidence, please refer to my earlier reply.

504ever
504ever

Venreader, The problem appears to be you think anyone whose opinion differs from your is being "unfair". That is a reflection on you, not others

Venreader
Venreader

Just be fair when judging players (any), too much to ask?

Venreader
Venreader

I just want respect for players, only that.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

Giving too much credit to someone is disrespectful to other players. Make an argument rather than asking others to change theirs without support.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

WIth Vasquez running the offense in this very game, the Hornets were down 21 to the team playing basketball at one of the lowest levels in history. Then the Hornets run the offense through EG and they win. Not exactly sure what you want anyone to apologize for when nearly every writer on this site said that Vasquez was struggling because he was miscast as a lead guard. We all knew he would be fine next to Gordon. Go ahead and read the following if you dont believe me: http://www.hornets247.com/2012/12/25/back-home-for-the-holidays-projecting-the-return-of-eric-gordon/ Vasquez is still a bottom 10 starting PG/ top 5 backup PG in the league. None of that has changed. Not sure what you want from people, but opinions on Vasquez have not changed.

Lucas Ottoni
Lucas Ottoni

That "Vasquez selfish" podcast was very unhappy in my opinion. Vasquez can be a very good player if you leave to see only his faults and recognize some of his qualities. He was the one rebound to get a triple-double on Friday. And is playing better and better. And Gordon's return will be very positive for the Vasquez' game. If the Hornets get a great SF and a solid center to split minutes with Lopez I feel good with Vasquez at point guard. He is a much better player than 1 year ago. Only haters cannot see that. I love Vasquez and I'm glad to see him improve.

Venreader
Venreader

Oh I forgot, Gordon substituted Thomas at 05:22

Venreader
Venreader

Michael, at the beggining of the third quarter -12:00- the game was [NOH 40-57 CHA], just before Gordon substituted Thomas the game was [NOH 54-61 CHA]. Vasquez was running the point without Gordon on court, and NOLA diminished the diference from 17 points to 7. However, I am sure with your analysis you can/will find a reason for "Vasquez lovers" to flame.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

You guys are welcome to read what I actually said before turning it into something else. I said that the Hornets were down 21 when the offense was run through Vasquez. Turned it around and closed the game out when Gordon became the primary initiator. Not saying Vasquez is horrible and he was the sole reason that the Hornets were down or that EG was the sole reason they won. Just the same thing I have been saying all along and have tons of data to back me up on- Gordon is fantastic with the ball, one of the best in the league in fact. Meanwhile, Vasquez is much more efficient off the ball. If anything, I will be criticizing Monty if Vasquez continues to stay on the ball when it is so obvious how this offense should be run. It is the coaches responsibility to put players in position to succeed. Gordon, Vasquez, and the Hornets as a team can thrive if Gordon is initiating the offense, with Vasquez playing off the ball. The data says that this is where he is most efficient. Hope this was put delicately enough. I don't want to give the Vasquez lovers any reason to flame, but I am sure there is something in there that will do it

Jack
Jack

Good point by Jason. My point was just Vasquez didn't create the 21 point deficit all by himself and Gordon certainly didn't overcome the deficit all by himself, even we all know he has much bigger impact in the game. Also I don't think the blog owe an apology, but you cannot simply mislead the readers to make your point strong. It actually makes the point weaker when you exaggerate. Again. Apology is too much for the 'under-appreciation'. I just don't like the way Michael started with the argument. I truly understand everyone is different as a fan. Some can love the team the most. Many can love a specific player more. We should all stop using some vague evidences though. Also maybe it is better not to question a player 'selfish' or not in the title before you get any solid evidences. That's how I feel. I appreciate the bloggers to do all the analysis and talking about the team. I just also feel you can do better to increase your credit.

Jack
Jack

Also I want to point out Vasquez's +/- is +12. And Gordon's +/- is +9. How could you make it sound like Vasquez's team was beat by 21 points and Gordon brought it back without him.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

Let's also add in the time of play as a proxy for number of possessions. Getting +12 in 42:02 is less `plus per minute' than +9 in 24:52 (0.285 for Vasquez compared to 0.362 for Gordon). This is but one flaw is looking at raw +/- numbers to compare players in isolation. I think the Vasquez lovers need to take a deep breath. I'm not aware of anyone who is disrespecting Vasquez or ignoring these attempts at arguments. Some of them are easily refuted, if well-intentioned. Eric Gordon having a good game does not mean Vasquez had a bad game. Quite the contrary. He's allowing Vasquez to spend more time doing what he does best against competition he can actually perform even better against.

Jack
Jack

Well, this is cherry picking... Vasquez was certainly on the floor contributing when Gordon was playing. The change of the team by Gordon that you are talking about just because he substituted Rivers. That's just a difference between Gordon and Rivers, not Vasquez. The guy played 42 minutes. I don't want to read your following excuses since you started with this unfair argument.

Venreader
Venreader

I think you pick on Vasquez as the main team problem, when in fact the SG and SF position were much more problematic. You may have your motivation as commentator for doing that the whole season, intead of concentrating and guiding the opinion towards more obvious issues.

Hank
Hank

What has he done to deserve an apology. He was 7-22 as the floor general for the hornets. 2nd worst in the nba.

Venreader
Venreader

I don´t want to disqualify you, I also now Vasquez limitations,but have to be fair with him, only neurotics would not recognize his improvement eventhough he was playing along with such SG and SF.

Ron
Ron

Commentators were blaming him with no justification, now they are proven wrong You're delusional. There are things (like spot-up shooting) that he's great at, but there are things (like running a 1/2 court offense) that he's BAD at. Too many times we've seen him dribble 15 seconds and then turn the ball over. EG's return means that GV can do what he's good at. Yay!!!!!

Venreader
Venreader

Any floor general would have that record in a team with all its Shooting Guard and Small Forwards PER below 10. Show me a team with better record whose (all!!) SF and SG were PER under 10 that won more games...Commentators were blaming him with no justification, now they are proven wrong, they should apologize for it-

lsucpolk
lsucpolk

Eric Gordon brings an infectious swagger to our backcourt. #silentassassin

mateor
mateor

Okay, this has got to be an EG sock puppet. No one else is using that hash tag. You guys got IP info here?

nolahog
nolahog

I missed the first half, but got to the bar for the 2nd half. I was laughing giddily the whole time. My brother has only started following basketball over the past year. The majority of his basketball knowledge comes from NBA2K and watching the Hornets over the past year. He's never seen Gordon play and has been trashing him nonstop over the past several months (understandably). He watched the game with me, and his first quote of the night was, "look, that bitch Eric Gordon is finally playing! Look at this piece of shi. . . whoa. That was pretty cool." Followed by him saying 5 minutes later, "Whoa. This guy is really working the right shot stick!"

nolahog
nolahog

And, how SICK was that AD block near the end of the game? "Old Man Davis HATES s#@t!"

Jack
Jack

Great comeback. His driving then kicking out is so beautiful to watch. Wish Rivers learns from it, even Vasquez. I know Vasquez can usually find big man open as he drives, but he is not as smooth as Gordon when it needs to kick out to the corner. I also found Vasquez, when doing a pick and roll, tend to go around the big defender instead of split the two defenders. Probably he or the coach wants to avoid the risk of turnover.

Brian
Brian

I think that Gordon will help Rivers in the long run. Rivers has a similar skill set to Gordon, and now he is getting a chance to see a elite guard go to work. Thats y Monty keep him on the bench the 2nd half, to watch and learn now to b an NBA guard. Gordon was almost unguardable tonight in 25 mins, cant wait till he is back starting going at least 30-35 mins. What a difference having a true baller makes.

Mike Wr
Mike Wr

I'd love it if Rivers turns into a second Gordon but disagree with your statement that Rivers has a similar skill set to Gordon. Gordon had a better jump shot in junior high than Rivers does now. Gordon's a terrific shooter with impeccable form. Gordon is also much stronger, can take contact when going to the basket, and still finish strong. Rivers cannot.

LLHOPS
LLHOPS

Not to mention that Gordon is a much better defender than Rivers. I think over time Rivers will improve on the offensive end as he gets stronger and can better finish at the rim. But I belive Rivers will always be a liability on defense. Long term I don't see him fitting Monty's system, which just makes you wonder why they drafted him. If Gordon stays heathly, Rivers minutes will continue to go dowm.

Brian
Brian

I watch Rivers play in high school the boy can play. At this point Rivers has alot to learn its only his 1st, but in 2-3 yrs I think you will be shocked how much better Rivers is from now. Once he develops his NBA game you will see. He started slow in college but learned how the play the college game, same will happen as loong as he continues to work hard.

Richard
Richard

STOP HATING. ON VASQUEZ

cloud520
cloud520

I don't really think the hate on Vasquez, they just recognize he isn't a premier guard in the NBA. And that's ok when you have someone as explosive as Gordon can be in the back court with him. Without Gordon, Vasquez commits too many turnovers and he can't defend the better guards in the league. His passer vision is well above average and when he gets his shot going he is a dangerous jump shooter but he just doesn't drive enough. I like Vasquez, I just don't think he is a starter on most teams.

Jack
Jack

He has limitation for sure. You just never know how good a player like him can develop into. When he was drafted, some Memphis fans says his is not even NBA material. He was even slower than he is now. He also turned over the ball more than now. He didn't shoot well. Well, you never know. He is making progress every year. I don't know how hard he has been working on his handle, speed, shooting. I value his attitude. Greivis, keep improving!

Ron
Ron

We don't hate Vazquez. We just "know his limitations".

Trackbacks

  1. […] plethora of shooters, finding the open man repeatedly after drawing defenders to himself. 247’s Ryan Schwan notes that the Hornets ran pick 'n rolls for EG over a dozen times with awesome results. The threat […]