Hornets dominate glass, finish off Celtics

Published: January 16, 2013

Eric Gordon didn’t play tonight, but the Hornets did what they have for the last eight games and limited their opponents possessions.  Ball game.

At first blush, you’d look at the fact the Hornets took 71 shots to the Celtics 74 and turned the ball over 2 more times, and you’d think I’m crazy.  Take a moment, however and glance at the free throw discrepency, and you’ll see there’s about 8 more possessions in the Hornets favor.  The main factor there is the Hornets control of the glass, as they grabbed 27.5% of their misses and 78% of their opponents misses.  Both of those numbers are well above league average and close  to what the Hornets have been doing over the last 8 games.  In game after game, this has been a deciding factor.

So if you find yourself asking how the Hornets won this without the “magic bullet” of Eric Gordon, that is your answer.  They played confident, tough, physical, and most importantly, energetic defense, crashed the boards, and won.

Al-Farouq Aminu

When Eric Gordon entered the starting line-up there was another new face back out there that night – Aminu.   Since returning to the starting five, however, Aminu has been playing with more energy and tighter discipline, turning himself into a plus defender in every aspect of the game.  If you can get offense from him at all, it”s usually just gravy for his Rebounding Turkey.  Tonight, the Hornets were running plays for Aminu.  Paul Pierce and Jeff Green just didn’t seem to take the Chief seriously, and he kept slipping baseline, receiving a pass, and taking a shot or getting fouled.   In the end, though he couldn’t hit his jumpers as usual, he drew no less than 13 free throws and finished with 18 points.  That’s some good gravy.

Greivis Vasquez

Fascinating game tonight.  Monty knew Vasquez would struggle against the pressure of Bradley and opened every possession to start the game with the small forward flaring to the wing to meet Vasquez and allow him to pass the ball over the top of the pressure.   This allowed Vasquez to then move, get a head of steam, or run off picks before catching the ball periodically and attacking.  No, he wasn’t perfect.  He did get picked clean multiple times.  There were multiple possessions where he couldn’t advance the ball – but by utilizing whomever Pierce was guarding, Austin Rivers, and Roger Mason, Vasquez was able to be effective enough until the end of the game, when heads up play and the use of Bradley’s own aggression against him allowed him to break the Celts final run and finish off the game.

Other observations

  • The Celtics are the most jump-shot centric team I’ve ever seen.  The Hornets didn’t allow many clean threes, clogged the paint with their bigs and let the Celts shoot jumpers.  It’s a major reason for the free throw discrepency.  Their bigs, particularly Bass and Garnett, even step back when they shoot.  No going to the basket.
  • I’m proud of Henry and Aminu.  One of the Celtics favorite plays is to run cross screens with Pierce and Garnett that has Garnett slam roughly into Pierce’s man to either start a post up for him by the basket, or let Pierce flare for a shot.  The Hornets switched that all night, which meant Henry and Aminu had to take Garnett’s hits, funnel him away from the basket, and generally muscle him for several vital seconds.  They were up to it all night.  Henry, in particular, didn’t back down a second to Garnett.
  • Lopez has great footwork in the paint.
  • Anthony Davis put up a 27-minute 10-10-1-1-2 line on five shots and had exactly one play explicitly ran for him.  The rest he simply made himself available for and finished. The Kid just impacts games.
  • Brian Roberts rolled his ankle in the second quarter.  It looked ugly.  Let’s hope he’s not too badly hurt.
  • With Gordon and Roberts out, that set up Rivers with lots of minutes and he responded with a solid game.   Eight points on six shots and an assist.  Zero Turnovers.  Spectacular?  No.  Baby steps, though.  Keep at it, rook.
  • 2-17 from deep for the Hornets tonight.  If they had done that earlier in the season, this game was a laugher in the Celtics favor.  It’s nice to see them figure out other ways to win.

Next game is Saturday against the Warriors.  Will the Hornets continue their winning ways?


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