Hornets clamp down in third, clip Hawks

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Published: February 8, 2013
Eric Gordon

Vasquez posted the first triple double of his career as he and Eric Gordon pumped in 48 points from the backcourt.  Throughout the game, it was clear the Hornets starters could hang with the the Hawks starters, but in the second things got brutal as over a six minute stretch the Hornets second unit couldn’t get anything going.  At one point, the backups were down 14 after Jason Smith picked up two quick fouls and Rivers and Roberts lost their primary relief valve – Jason Smith mid-range jumpers.   Still, the Hawks lead at that point, which had Dominique Wilkins proclaiming the Hornets as “not a good team in any phase of the game” was built on a paper-thin foundation.  The Hawks had drilled 8 out of 10 threes, but were being shattered on the boards and closed the half up only five despite their hot shooting and 9 Hornets turnovers.

In the second half, the threes dried up as the Hawks went a more reasonable 5-14.  Though Vasquez-Lopez continued to be flammable to any Teague-led Pick-and-roll, their own pick-and-roll was proving effective when Vasquez could get the passes through.  Combined with solid defense, and the Hornets went on a 20-4 run to take the lead.

The key to the game, however, was the second unit coming in and not reprising their earlier crappy display.  There were three differences during this stint:

  • Smith, despite continuing to foul everything that moved, was able to stay on the floor and drill four mid-range jumpers off passes from Roberts and Rivers when they got into trouble.
  • Roger Mason played instead of Xavier Henry.  Henry couldn’t stay with Kyle Korver off screens to save his life.  Mason did a much better job – and got 20 minutes in the game as a result.
  • Austin Rivers didn’t turn the ball over whenever he wasn’t getting it blocked.  It’s surprising how much easier it is to not be outscored when your lead guard isn’t sucking.

In the fourth, the Hornets kept fighting, hit some big shots, and the Hawks tried to shoot themselves into the game with long threes.  Ball game.

Observations

  • Anthony Davis shoots too many twos without having his feet set.  He’s shooting 30% from there.  He makes Josh Smith look good from that range.
  • Josh Smith opened the game with 6 straight long jumpers, going 1-6.  Thanks, Josh!  Smith is either amazing or lazy.  Tonight, he was lazy.  Yeah, you’ll look at that 23-6-8 line and think he was amazing, but he wasn’t.  For every nice move he had, he threw out a dumb shot or a turnover or a lazy pass.
  • Austin Rivers was a problem.  Is a problem.  Ugh.
  • Eric Gordon’s jumper was looking gorgeous in the first half – and though he recorded just a single assist, his forays to the hoop kept breaking the defense, helping Hornet players grab offensive rebounds.
  • Ryan Anderson:  20 points on 11 shots.  Good stuff.
  • At one point Brian Roberts set a down screen on Ivan Johnson, who was supposed to be guarding Anderson.  Anderson hit the three, Johnson shoved Roberts away, went down the court, and when Roberts was chasing Devin Harris around a screen, stepped over and threw a hard shoulder at Roberts, catching him in the head.  Offensive Foul, Hornets ball.  Thanks Ivan!
  • The Hawks were really sloppy tonight, turning the ball over 17 times.  The Hornets only recorded 4 steals on those 17 turnovers.  That gives you an idea of how often they just overthrew each other out there.

Next game is Sunday in Toronto!

11 comments
xman20002000
xman20002000

EG is following in the footsteps of CP3.. not a great dresser but Mr. Personality... LOL... But what Eric Gordon lacks in personality he pails in confidence in his game... It's not about EGs game but the game of other's on the team... Vasquez and he appear to be playing together considering Mr. V has the leadership and he can shoot... He is nowhere close to Westbrook but I agree he looks like Miller...

loudlikepat
loudlikepat

I honestly think that it's mostly just Gordon's personality. Look at any highlights of him, he isn't very demonstrative at all. His nickname is the silent assassin, so there's that. He's never really been very talkative. But like I said,mostly. He also might be frustrated that he isn't totally healthy. Glass half full...

ACStamp
ACStamp

I was at this game, it was a great experience. ATL fans were VERY confused by the Mardi Gras uniforms though. Hopefully they are executed a little better when the rebranding goes live. GV was cooking, he looks MUCH different in person than on TV. He's still noticeably slow, but he looks much more crafty in person. Less statuesque, but more like Andre Miller. My stepsister (who doesn't know ANYTHING about basketball) made several comments about "Why does that number 10 guy look so angry? It's like he doesn't want to be out there...he looks lazy, and then he'll give a speed burst and be lazy again. And then he pouts all game." Never a good sign. I love EG's game, maaaaaaaaaan he has Jay Cutler style body language.

ImSorryMonty
ImSorryMonty

Lopez beating the other 9 guys down the court after playing 38 minutes may have been the highlight of the season for me. That was fan-f******-tastic. GV, do your thing bro. I'm with the others on the board buying into the hype train. I'd extend him now before he ends up costing us too much money. However, let's not kid ourselves. He's too limited athletically to be a top flight PG. We NEED Eric Gordon to assert himself as a leader on this team and when guys like Jeff Teague start torching Vasquez, he needs to step up, man up, and D up. Without that, Vasquez/Gordon backcourt will never go deep into the playoffs. If you could put Rivers' attitude into Gordon's physical ability, you'd have a top 5 player in the NBA. As it is (and as a HUGE Gordon defender/honk), the dude drives me absolutely bananas occasionally. Frequently, when he doesn't get the ball on offense, he throws up his arms, goes in the corner, and pouts. Dude needs an attitude check. Rivers' offense was putrid tonight (most nights), but I absolutely love the way the kid plays defense. He is straight up in the defender's grill. That's what lockdown defenders do. They take it TO the offensive player instead of vice-versa. Kids got the attitude and work ethic. If he can develop a little more athletically, learn angles and situational defense, and put on muscle, good lord. He's young. But as far as I'm concerned, that defense (with our crappy record) has earned him his playing time in Monty's eyes. Kudos to Austin for at least finding other ways to impact the game. I don't know. Gordon drops 27 and I'm a little annoyed. Is it fair? No. But when you get paid like the best player on the team, you need to act like it for crying out loud. Today's players man... For Every KD, there's a Dwight Howard, Russell Westbrook, and Eric Gordon. It's just so gdang frustrating watching a guy with all this basketball ability have such a piss poor attitude. AGAIN, DISCLAIMER, HUGE GORDON HONK But a spades a spade.

loudlikepat
loudlikepat

You have to keep in consideration that Gordon still isn't 100% healthy. Most of the time he is our best backcourt defender. I agree though, Rivers can seriously play some defense sometimes. If he could just get a consistent 15 foot jumper and work on finishing at the rim, he could average at least 12pts a game. It hopefully will come with time, and luckily with our young team, we have a fair amount of time for his development.

ImSorryMonty
ImSorryMonty

Not talking about his play on the court, talking about his body language and attitude on the court. His play is fine.

504ever
504ever

Great game. Our Big 4 tonight, Gordon, Vasquez, Lopez and Anderson, were really strong tonight, a combined 32-57 shooting and 84 points! Also, thanks to Ryan for telling like it is about Rivers: "•Austin Rivers was a problem. Is a problem. Ugh." And noting Rivers problems with turnovers and getting his shot blocked. Loudi, I have no problem with signing Vsquez to be out starter of back-up PG, but Rivers isn't the answer at PG right now and may not be in the future.

cmcmil1
cmcmil1

Yes, Lord knows we don't hear enough about how bad Rivers is...lol.

loudlikepat
loudlikepat

OK, I'm going to say it. Lock down Vasquez as our pg for the future. Austin can be our backup, but I wouldn't trade Vasquez for cp3 right now. He has so much heart and is without a doubt the leader of this team. Vasquez for Poindexter was the trade of the century. Oh and Ryno for Goose. Supremely impressed with Vasquez as of late. I only see him getting better/smarter. I was thinking he was going to be a stop-gap until we found our pg. You have to keep in consideration that this is his first year getting this much playing time. Imagine next year. Diamond in the rough I tell you. Congrats on the triple double, dude. He's the heart of this team, and if others would show his passion on the court night in and night out, things could get very exciting. Dell, pay this man!

CarnbY
CarnbY

I wasn't one of the people gushing over Vasquez earlier in the season, but his improved offensive play really has been amazing. Early in the season he kept getting caught beyond the 3-pt line without being able to do something, but somehow he found a way out of that. I would still be hesitant to pencil him in as PG of the future though, his slow-footed defense and turnovers could really hurt the team in a high-level playoff series. I'm glad Mason got most of Henry's minutes, although I thought it was curious that he got more minutes than Aminu. Atlanta is added to my "hate" list now (much because of Dominique Wilkins, who seems like a complete tool) so this was a sweet win :)

CoReMeGa
CoReMeGa

Agreed!!! 2 of the best trades ever! Can't wait to see what other great deals Demps gets us with our cap flexibility going forward!