Strong defensive 4th quarter leads to impressive Hornets victory over Grizzlies in Memphis

Published: January 27, 2013

The Hornets clamped down on D in the fourth quarter and held the Grizzlies to 23.8% shooting, turning a four point deficit into an eight point victory.

On paper, New Orleans matches up with Memphis better than most other playoff contenders, but once Mike Conley went down just four minutes into the game with an ankle injury, the scale tipped even further in their favor. As I noted in the preview for this game, Conley is the Grizzlies’ only real three-point threat, so with him out of the game, defending the Grizzlies became much easier. For this reason, if he has to miss significant time, Memphis could be in serious trouble. As for this game, let’s take a look at the keys to the game and see how strongly they correlate to tonight’s outcome.

  1. Pack the paint and force them to beat you from deep. As I just noted, doing this became much simpler with Conley out, and they had a decent amount of success as a result… initially. The reason that the numbers look don’t look so flattering is largely due to second chance points, but we’ll get into that more later.
  2. Keep them off of the free throw line. New Orleans did pretty well here, limiting Memphis to just 18 free throw attempts, a bit lower than the Grizzlies’ 24th ranked 20.6 attempts per game. Unfortunately for the Hornets, Memphis also shot them just about as well as they usually do, making 16 of them.
  3. BOX OUT. Oops. The Hornets couldn’t keep Memphis off of the offensive glass at all today, allowing an offensive rebound rate of almost 40% (22 offensive boards on 56 misses). While New Orleans’ initial defense was great, their inability to end possessions after just a single Grizzlies shot made this game much closer than it had to be.
  4. Create easy passing lanes. The Hornets’ guards did a decent job of protecting the ball against one of the NBA’s best defensive back courts, committing only 7 total. Surprisingly enough, it was the New Orleans forwards who had more trouble, particularly Anthony Davis, who coughed the ball up five times. The overall result was just 10 points off of turnovers for Memphis, which was essential in the Hornets’ victory.

Other notes:

  • Hell of a game from Jason Smith tonight, scoring 16 points on just 7 shots to go along with 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, an assist, and no turnovers. Thirteen of those points came in the second half, as he and Anderson led an impressive scoring effort from the Hornets’ bench.
  • Speaking of Anderson – dude took as many shots from inside the 3-point line as I did for the team tonight. For some reason, Memphis thought it would be fun to leave him open for a ton of good 3-point looks, and Ryan made them pay, converting on 7 of his 13 attempts (four more than Memphis made all game long).
  • I liked what I saw from Lopez tonight, even in just 17 minutes of play. He scored 8 points on 6 shots, and did a better job on the glass than he typically does, as those 6 rebounds (4 offensive) is a pretty solid total for such limited playing time.
  • Aminu continues to play well, finishing 4-9 from the field to go along with twice as many rebounds (12) than any other Hornets player. Aminu also did a pretty good job on Rudy Gay, as the Hornets clearly made a point as a team to give him space to shoot in favor of preventing his drives to the rim. The result was a 3-17 shooting night for Gay (1-7 from beyond the arc), far worse than his performance in New Orleans earlier this year in which he scored a game high 28 points on 18 shots.
  • A rough game in the box score for Greivis, but he passed the eye test for most of the night, as many of his misses were shots that he normally hits. Despite taking 16 shots, he still finished with 11 assists and played well down the stretch for New Orleans.

The Hornets will look to carry their success into Los Angeles against the Lakers on Tuesday night. The game will be on NBA TV, not Fox Sports New Orleans. The Hornets haven’t beaten the Lakers since Game 4 of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs in 2011, so hopefully they can buck that trend in a couple of nights.


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