Jazz Go Inside and Drop the Hornets

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Published: January 30, 2013
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Eric Gordon didn’t play. It’s the second night of a back-to-back. There are a handful of excuses as to why the Hornets should have lost this game.

And none of them matter.

This game came down to how well the Hornets defended the paint. When they did, they took a lead. When they struggled, Utah surged ahead.

The points in the paint by quarter go: 8, 18, 16, 6. The Hornets played their best during the 1st and 4th quarters. Against a team with one three-point threat, I’d like to say that is not a coincidence.

Another number jumps out of the box score: 46 free throws attempted by the Jazz. It might seem excessive but when you make 23 of your 34 made field goals in the paint your going to get some fouls called. Tonight the Hornets finished with 32.

But the game was close, and that is a huge credit to this young Hornets team and Monty Williams. While the team struggled at times to defend the paint when Davis and Lopez were on the bench, they came out prepared. The Hornets attempted to contest nearly every shot in the paint, and while they (clearly) didn’t do the best job of forcing misses, I found myself screaming at missed defensive assignments less than I normally do.

In the 4th quarter, while Davis sat on the bench with 5 fouls, the Hornets kept the game close. Then Monty subbed Davis in with 8 minutes left and broke out some zone defense. It was such a simple idea, and one that worked with both Davis and Aminu on the court, that I feel better about Monty Williams’ tactics.

Ultimately the Hornets were too inconsistent and could not pull out the ideal end result. I’m taking this loss with a glass half-full approach: Inconsistency is a sign of a young team. And that should improve with time. And Gordon playing. And fewer fouls on Davis. And rest. Sorry, bad habit with the excuses.

Observations

-The Hornets scored just 7 points off 13 Utah turnovers. That’s unacceptable. The team has a mediocre offense and those are wasted points which could have won the game.

-Vasquez is hitting a bit of a rough stretch. He’s in a three-point drought and at one point missed 8 straight shots tonight. His line of 17 points and 13 assists look good, but he made some poor decisions on passes tonight. I’ll forgive him for it since he’s still the most important piece of the Hornets offense.

-Darius Miller showed some incredibly nice passing tonight. I say the Hornets keep him and send Henry away.

-Davis is an excellent cutter on the baseline and it’s getting him lots of looks on the low block. At times it seems like Davis is just standing around on offense and when his defender looks away he cuts towards the basket. I love it.

-I liked Monty’s rotations more tonight. Still not thrilled with what he’s doing, but tonight was better.

-Against a team that gets the ball inside as much as the Jazz do there are going to be plenty of fouls. When Davis and/or Lopez were on the bench the Hornets had no one who could defend Utah’s bigs. Double teaming one of them with two inferior defenders doesn’t make up for it either. When skilled bigs are playing in the paint like that  there is very little a team like the Hornets can do. Just one of those things.

-Aminu’s rebounding is almost at the impressive level, however he needs to keep it up every game–he’s close but not there yet. His defense has definitely improved and I love how he tries to use his athleticism and length to get in the passing lanes. I really just wish he could bring something to the table offensively.

11 comments
Mikey
Mikey

The next phase of Aminu's game that needs to be developed is the corner 3. He has a good enough skill set to remain in the NBA, but if he could develop that corner 3, we're talking about a Bruce Bowen type of ceiling for this kid. I'm liking his development this year. It seems he is figuring out what his role is on this squad.

Cajun T
Cajun T

I think Monty's rotations the last 2 games has a lot to do with the fact that they are playing 4 games in 5 days. Expect more of the same in the next 2 games. Just an amateur's opinion.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

Counting things is an underrated skill, my friend. You bring up something very important here.

CarnbY
CarnbY

I agree about Henry-Miller, if Henry had made 3-4 FT's instead of 1-4 it would have been a different ballgame. I've been rooting for Henry since he came into the league, but he seems like a lost cause at this point. Also, that pass from Miller to Smith was sweet!

Jake Madison
Jake Madison

Comments like this bother me. First, I didn't talk about Roberts. Second, rather trying to bring up a point and discuss it intelligently you're just pasting in links and your argument is basically 'because they said so'. Third, the use of "real" in the comments feels like you're putting not only our site down but readers as well. If you presented constructive criticism that's one thing. But this I just don't appreciate. Email me at nolajake86 @ gmail dot com and I'll have a smart, intelligent discussion about Roberts with you. But if your just going to use the tactics above then you must be his dad, brother, cousin or something

mateor
mateor

You know you're talking to Michael Jordan, right?

GerryV
GerryV

The line where you stated that Vasquez was the most important part of the offense sums it up..a nice player that can easily be prepared for....Utah 41 pts in the lane in the first 3 qrts....run some mis-direction....space the floor and drive the gaps exxposes the late rotations and you can see where some of the players still do not read/react to some defensive situations a-reaction to slip cuts...b- when a player leaves and area and is quickly replaced with another offensive player (cut and fill)..c0 at times too many players rolling towrds the ball...exposes baseline and restricted areas.... I remain, V

Chuck
Chuck

The rotations were a little better tonight, mostly because I could excuse them due to foul trouble, but I can't figure out why Roberts and Henry are still getting minutes. They haven't shown any signs of developing this season, unlike Aminu or Rivers. Even the idea of keeping them around as end of the bench guys is weird, because there are probably 10 veteran free agents who can do the same thing they do (especially Henry) and be signed next year at the minimum.

Kanye East
Kanye East

The Pelicans backup guards...somebody pass me another drink please. SMH...