Jazz Go Inside and Drop the Hornets

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Published: January 30, 2013

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.

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