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Hornets Beat the Kings in a Tale of Two Halves
The title really sums it up. In the first half the Hornets ran out to a 64-39 lead. It was a combination of incredibly good play on both ends of the court for the Hornets along with just putrid shooting from the Kings. Defensively the Hornets did a great job forcing 8 turnovers and contesting most of Sacramento’s shots forcing them to shoot a terrible 34.1% from the field. Offensively, Ryan Anderson made 5 3-pointers and the team had 18 assists. It was pretty basketball all around.
Then the third quarter started and the Hornets entered Opposite Land.
The Kings got hot and stopped missing–shooting 62.2% in the second half. A lot of this was the lack of Anthony Davis who rolled his ankle on a ref’s foot–all seemed good however when Davis came out of the locker room looking fine. He said he expects to play on Wednesday. The lack of the interior defensive presence allowed the Kings to score 34 points in the paint in the second half. The Hornets turned the ball over 11 times to the Kings 2. Overall, the play was incredible sloppy with players falling down and simply losing the ball as they dribbled. All of a sudden the 25 point lead evaporated and it even looked like the win could be in doubt.
But the Hornets managed to hold on and get the 114-105 win. It was the first Hornets win when they’ve allowed over 100 points.
-Not having Davis in the second half really hurt the team more than I thought it would have. DeMarcus Boogie Cousins went off after the break for 21 points. The Hornets had no one who could guard him. He wasn’t using any fancy moves or threatening to eat people. He merely dribbled into the lane for a dunk or close shot. The Hornets struggle with very strong, physical centers even with Davis in the lineup, without him Lopez and Smith were very over matched.
-Keeping with Boogie Cousins, my favorite part of the night was during the Mardi Gras race the Hornets do with a King, Jester and creepy Baby. Cousins stepped away from the Kings huddle and just stared at the Baby with his mouth wide open. I’m not sure if he was creeped out or thought he was hallucinating.
-Brian Roberts confused me today. He tends to be a shoot first guard but when I though he has a good look or an open lane to drive, he passed. When he needed to pass, he shot the ball. It’s no surprise he finished the night -15.
-I though Rivers played well and didn’t try and do too much. You always hear the cliche, which Monty even used when describing Rivers, that you want players to let the game come to them. That’s what Rivers did tonight. He went out and played as a piece of the offense. He only finished with 4 assists but he made many other correct plays which don’t show up on the stat sheet. His passing is slowly improving–he’s putting more force and speed behind the ball than he did earlier in the season–and if he can finish at the rim slightly better, he could be in for a nice second half of the season.
-Jason Smith is having week of games and I think it speaks volumes to the lack of depth the Hornets have that Monty has to play him so much right now. I think the main prevailing theory on Monty’s rotations is that he is sticking with the hot hand, but if that’s the case I have no idea why Smith is logging minutes in a close(ish) game. He did, however, get to the line well tonight and made his free throws which I guess could be enough of a case to keep him in.
-Ryan Anderson did his Ryan Anderson thing tonight. He finished with a team high 27 points and went 7 of 14 from deep. He’s also flashing that elbow/baseline post-up then fade away jumper a lot more recently. It’s nice to see him have another go-to type of shot and makes him harder to defend.
-Robin Lopez is still struggling on the defensive glass. The positive was that he actually grabbed rebounds tonight though only 1 was defensive. The 4 offensive boards were nice but his rebounding is something that must improve for him to be a viable starter.
-Vasquez had another good game. In the second half he seemed more passive and I would have liked him to try and take charge of the game more. It’s one of the reasons why the Kings managed to chip away at the Hornets’ lead. Vasquez attacked the basket and had multiple good looks from within 5 feet but instead of shooting what is a high percentage shot, he passed out to the perimeter. These passes ended in turnovers or a rushed attempt as time ran down on the shot clock. When you get looks in close you need to take them.
-Aminu has a solid second half. He’s really picked up his level of play recently with Gordon back. The main reason for this seems to be his smarter shot selections. With Gordon back he doesn’t need to worry about trying to make a play on offense and can properly function as a 4th or 5th option. It also allows him to focus more on positioning himself to grab offensive rebounds and he had 4 in the second half today.