Hornets force just five turnovers in 95-86 loss to Hawks
Led by an impressive outing from Josh Smith, Atlanta got the best of New Orleans despite the Hornets making 10 out of their 20 three point attempts. Smith finished the game with a decent 23 points on 20 shots, but was so essential because of all of the different ways in which he impacted the game. His stat line also included 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 blocks, 3 steals, and just 1 turnover. He was all over the court in his 37 minutes of action (getting regular minutes after playing only 23 minutes the night before), and the Hornets really had no answer for him. From a game plan perspective, let’s take a look at how New Orleans fared with my three keys to the game in the preview.
- Get to the free throw line. The Hawks lived up to their reputation here, allowing only .146 free throw attempts per field goal attempt to the Hornets tonight. To make matters worse, New Orleans converted on just 4 of their 12 attempts, resulting in a franchise low 33.3% free throw percentage. Fortunately for them, the Hawks fared even worse in this category, attempting just .096 free throw attempts per field goal attempt and making only 4 out of their 8 attempts. Free throws were definitely not “free” tonight.
- Limit turnovers. The Hornets actually did a pretty decent job here, committing only 13 turnovers (1.5 below their season average and 3 less than the amount that the Hawks force per game). Furthermore, the Hawks only scored 10 points off of those turnovers, far less than their 17.6 turnover per game average. Unfortunately, Atlanta took the whole “limiting turnovers” mentality to a whole new level, committing just 5 turnovers of their own thanks to no one player coughing the ball up more than once.
- Defend the 3-point line. The Hawks’ 3-point statistics were very similar to their season averages, as they shot slightly fewer but made a slightly higher percentage than usual (9-22, 40.9%). Fortunately for the Hornets, they had an even better game from beyond the arc, making 10 of their 20 3-point attempts.
Other notes from tonight’s game:
- Another brutal home third quarter for the Hornets. I have been assuming that the huge difference between the team’s home and road third quarters could be largely chalked up to small sample size, but the more it happens, the more you have to wonder why. Entering tonight’s game, New Orleans’ net rating in the 3rd quarter was +4.4 on the road (111.1 offensive rating) and -27.8 at home (85.3 offensive rating). On a per-game basis in the third quarter, the Hornets are scoring 19 points per game at home and 25 points per game on the road. Something happens after halftime with this team at home, and Monty needs to figure out what it is.
- Both teams combined to shoot worse from the free throw line (8-20, 40%) than they did from the 3-point line (19-42, 45.2%). I cannot remember the last time I’ve seen that happen in any game, especially with as many as 20 attempts from each.
- For between one and two minutes, Coach Monty Williams deployed a lineup that I have been waiting to see all season long – Vasquez, Gordon, Anderson, Davis, and Lopez. The lineup allows the team’s best five players to all be on the floor at once, and it is usable on both sides of the court thanks to Anderson’s perimeter shooting and Davis’ athleticism and wingspan on defense. I liked what I saw from the lineup in the quick glimpse that we got, and hopefully it is one that we’ll see more of as the season moves along.
- Greivis Vasquez finished just one rebound shy of a triple double for the second time in the team’s past three games. My favorite part of his game tonight, however, was his assist to turnover ratio of 5. When Vasquez isn’t coughing the ball up and Aminu isn’t getting enough minutes to do the same, the Hornets as a team will typically do very well from a turnover perspective.
- Roger Mason made the most of his playing time, converting all three of his field goal attempts (all 3-pointers) while adding 5 rebounds as well. With the team’s long-term plans in mind, I cannot see why he is playing 20 more minutes than Roberts, but he certainly played well tonight.
The Hornets are back in action tomorrow night in Houston to take on the Rockets, a team coming off of a 19 point win against these Atlanta Hawks. Tip-off is at 7 PM, and you can catch the game back on Fox Sports New Orleans.
Once Gordon gets in the starting lineup hopefully the rotations will become more consistent, allowing guys to become more comfortable with each other. Hopefully with a Vasquez/Gordon tandem starting the 3rd quarter the Hornets can start getting over this incredibly annoying trend of coming out so cold. They finished the second quarter so strong and played extremely well against a high caliber team all half, what is, or isn't going on in the locker room at halftime that is causing them to come out so flat?! It would be nice to see the best five on the floor, Vasquez, Gordon, Anderson, Davis, and Lopez. Unfortunately that leaves us with a rather horrendous bench. Jason Smith had a terrible game. There was a really bad stretch about a minute long in which the Hawks were able to extend the lead to 6 because of multiple mistakes from Smith. Unfortunately Gordon wasn't as on as he was the previous game. The Hawks did a good job on him but it did seem like he wasn't getting a lot of calls that are made all the time when guys drive to the basket. Also, the amount of missed foul shots from guys like Davis, Vasquez, and Gordon is extremely frustrating. Ultimately the Hornets showed a lot of ability last night against a good team. This Hornets team should be able to handle the Bobcats of the NBA world and show promise against teams like the Hawks. These past two games they have played with Gordon back have been way more fun to watch than anything seen prior to Gordon's return.
If Gordon feels the need to hero ball and chuck, I'd prefer he just recklessly drive instead of taking off the dribble threes. That has to be one of the lowest efficiency shots in the game, contested dribble pull up threes on the wing.
What kills me about coach is the way he handles Robin Lopez's minutes. In situations where he is desperately needed, such as guarding Zaza, he is not on the floor. When he is being lit up defensively on the pick and roll and dropping rebounds he gets 30 minutes a game...
For those commenting outside the commenting guidelines repeatedly... just post within the guidelines. It is not the opinion expressed or position taken. It's the repeated lack of adhereing to the guidelines set forth.
Was at the game. Here is what I saw. Davis left his feet for perimeter pump fakes by Josh Smith several times in a row to start the game. That has to stop. Lance Thomas played some great defense on Josh Smith. Wish he would have played more in the game. On one series Smith pounded Thomas with repeated borderline offensive body fouls. Thomas held his ground. Smith missed the shot and then whined to the refs about the play through the timeout. Lance was really in Smith's head. Rivers had huge problems on defense and made very poor decision on offense: Missed open bigs and chances to drive. When I did drive he got crushed, and sometimes stuffed. (His assist in the second quarter was when he lost the ball and it went to Smith. That is not an assist.) Hence his 16 minutes. The Hornets started off the game running the offense through Lopez. It was very effective. Gordon has a beautiful shot and Anderson's post moves are underrated. The refs sucked. Gordon especially got pounded on drives without drawing fouls. Vasquez was very solid at both PG and SG, where he complimented Gordon well. It's no wonder he led the team in minutes played. He plays hard ever second, and I am sure Monty respects that. (Also, Rivers was so bad his minutes had to get distributed to others, like Vasquez, and Mason who played very well in all phases, too. Although many of Mason's minutes were against the Hawks back up guard(s).) Two members of the 2010 NFL Hall of Fame class, Emmitt Smith and Rickey Jackson, were courtside and introduced to the crowd. Cool!
Third quarter woes==depth issues. I have said it here before, but it is like LSU football in reverse. Starters are being pressed due to the lack of resources behind them. The data on Ryan Anderson's ability to play the three is almost non-existant, right? When he joined the team, I remember trying to see if he could fit in that spot and finding he had spent almost non time there. I am not against it, the best five would be neat to see. But Monty will have to stretch himself because Ryan has a unique set of skills for a SF. You won't see Dirk play there, for instance. Be neat to see something new.