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.
EJ slices and Dices, Hornets rally from 21 down and Win
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.
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.
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?
- 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.
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.
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..
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.
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!"
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.
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.
This is what I was thinking of when I posted about the Toronto game, and what Gordon could have added that Rivers couldn't. And why I said we need to see Gordon in the line-up for at least a month before we talk about trading anyone. WOW, what a difference Eric Gordon can make.
Do y'all still think it's better to sell Gordon? I want to keep him, but I know there were many who wanted him gone.
Even though this rotation worked, you know what I thought was sad? How one of our guards were playing small forward down the stretch with Vasquez/Gordon/Mason. I'm not complaining saying this rotation didn't work, but let's admit it, we played the Bobcats tonight. Imagine if we played a better team? We desperately need someone to step up at SF or we need to make a trade or something. Enough with the negativity, I'm proud of how the team played! You could tell just having Gordon on the court made a HUGE difference! Gordon's vision was on point also. Every time he went in the lane he was looking for people around him to set them up. This team has a bright future
Absolutely LOVE this team's future with EJ, AD, and RA. Crazy how things work though. The same day the Hornets find long term stability in New Orleans, the news breaks that Sacramento will probably be losing their team. Now today, when Eric Gordon finally returns from his knee injury, news breaks that Brandon Roy has suffered knee setbacks and is again considering retirement.
The thing I hate most about Eric Gordon, he is so freaking talented. It's so hard to get rid of a guy when you see how impactful he can be on the team. He was incredible today but it seems so unlikely that he will be able to string more than 5-10 game together before he's back on the inactive list... I'd love to be proven wrong because he is so good to watch and makes this team so much better.
Amazing game! Between tonight's comeback victory and yesterday's attempted comeback you can almost feel team growth. For those of you who act like Lopez is untradable, I ask you to look at what he did (or didn't) do against the last 2 teams that didn't have the strongest frontcourts. I like Lopez but everyone knows that he's not a starter on this team in the future and with that being the case why wouldn't you want to trade him for a PG or SF who could start for us by next year and actually help the team?? You guys have to stop being so quick to buy into the hype.