Grizzlies Pull Away in Third Quarter, Defeat Hornets 96-85

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Published: March 9, 2013
Mike Conley, Robin Lopez

The Hornets trailed 20-13 with 2:28 left in the first quarter when Anthony Davis checked in and New Orleans put Anderson and Davis next to each other for the first time in the game. For the next 11 minutes, the two played off each other beautifully and New Orleans went on a 22-11 run to take a 35-31 lead. The buzzer sounded and in came Robin Lopez. What followed was a 15 minute stretch that saw Lopez on the court with one or the other. What also followed was a 47-25 run that saw the Grizzlies take a 78-60 lead into the fourth quarter.

To nobody’s surprise, Davis and Anderson started the fourth quarter and got the Hornets within single digits at one point, but it was too little too late, as Memphis won 96-85 in a game that saw New Orleans fall to 2-8 since the All-Star break. The simple fact is that the Hornets are playing with two and a half quality players at this point and that won’t be good enough to beat one of the best teams in the West on their home court. Anthony Davis was an absolute beast, as he came very close to notching his first career 20-20 game, falling just short as he went for 20 and 18. Ryan Anderson put in 17 off the bench, and Eric Gordon had a few nice moments offensively, but they were rare as he only got off seven shots in 28 minutes.

Brian Roberts was actually a bright spot in a second quarter that saw the Hornets pull out in front for the majority of the quarter, as he put in 9 points and dished out 3 assists, including a beautiful lob to Davis. The offense ran much smoother with Roberts at the helm, primarily because the Grizzlies could not force him to one side of the court or the other the way they could Vasquez. This opened up multiple options for the Hornets offense, as the spacing was infinitely better. Unfortunately, Roberts only got 17 minutes and Vasquez played the lion’s share of the minutes (35). Tons of Vasquez vs. a quick point guard + a lack of minutes with both Davis and Anderson on the court = Another Hornets Loss. Plain and simple.

Notes and Observations

- I’ve spent a lot of time and energy trying to educate fans on the podcast and in columns about Greivis Vasquez’s inability to play and defend the point guard position. Ryan Schwan has as well, as has Gerry V and numerous others who have no ill-will against Vasquez. We simply call it as we see it and take what we do very seriously. No, we have not been spoiled by Chris Paul – that is not who we want him to be. We would all be ecstatic if the Hornets had a point guard like Mike Conley, a guy who is widely considered to be an average point guard in this league. Vasquez is FAR from that level. So I am not going to waste my time anymore after tonight. It’s clear as day that this is the top priority heading into this off-season is getting a point guard who can at least play the Conley’s of the world to a draw. Any Vasquez fanboys who want to believe he is a good starting point guard are welcome here and won’t get any arguments from me personally, because honestly it is not worth wasting my time.

- Last thing on Vasquez, Dell Demps talked about a possible scenario in his latest Chalk Talk in which the Hornets upgraded the point guard position in the summer and would then move Vasquez to small forward. Most fans who gave feedback on this thought it was crazy, but is it? When Conley blew by Vasquez time and time again, what did Monty do to counter? That’s right, he put Vasquez on the Grizzlies small forward Tayshaun Prince, a slow footed 83 year-old wing who Vasquez could stay in front of. I actually wouldn’t mind this – Vasquez getting 25 minutes a game, 12 against the opponents backup point guard and 10-15 at small forward in a three-guard lineup.

- Halfway through the second quarter my wife asked me, “Wait, why don’t Anderson and Davis play together more? The offense looks so good with both of them out there and they can actually rebound.” I had no answer for her.

- Monty tried to get Darius Miller some minutes tonight but his teammates completely ignored him. Three times the Hornets swung the ball around the perimeter and one more pass would have led to a wide open look for Miller, but the pass was never made. It’s a shame. This season is over for all intents and purposes, so let’s see what the rook can do.

- My wife asked me, “Have you ever seen Aminu show any sign of emotion? Ever!?” I am still thinking on that one.

-  The Hornets are getting into their bad habit of watching the ball too much. Tons of backdoor cuts that led to lobs or easy passes that led to Grizzlies free throws.

- The game is really slowing down for Anthony Davis on both ends. The mid-range jumper still needs some work, but it is still better than Garnett’s jumper or David West’s jumper when they were 19. One more summer of taking 500 of those a day, followed by two summers of him working on his post game, and you will have an unstoppable force that will be in the MVP discussion for the following ten seasons.

- My wife asked, “How many years is left on Lopez’s deal?” I answered two, her response? “Yuck.”

- If you told me I could have any center in the NBA for the next three years, I would take Marc Gasol.

- I love it when Eric Gordon takes a spot up jumper. I can’t stand it when he tries to create his own mid-range jumper off the dribble. He is shooting under 35% in that situation with less than 25% of his makes being assisted. Meanwhile, 71% of his three’s are assisted and he is shooting 35% in that situation, meaning that he gets .35 more points per possession when he takes that shot than when he tries to create a garbage mid-range jumper. It’s just a basketball IQ thing, something Gordon does not have to be honest. But if you can get him a point guard with a high IQ who could allow him to spot up more, maybe he can get back to his 2010-11 form.

- Washington won today, and when you combine that with a Hornets loss, New Orleans is now tied for 3rd in the draft lottery. Ping pong balls baby!

9 comments
Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith

The only think Monty would tell me when I asked "Would Davis & Anderson get more playing time together?" Monty just respond "We'll see."

mateor
mateor

I remain very skeptical that success includes Davis and Anderson together on the floor for long stretches, unless one of them works over the summer to get some new skill sets. We all like rebounds, right? Defense? That is a really rough assignment for the kid at his weight. Ryan has shown zero inclination he is ready to man the three. He is a proto stretch four, one of the most valuable things you can have. Sliding him into a slasher role would be another toughie. One such lineup I would be interested to see would be an extreme small ball with the two of them and maybe Aminu at the three. But that requires fast guards to get down the court and help/recover on defense and we don't have any of those. Not really Monty's style anyway. It isn't that I don't,t think that front line can be done...but not with these pieces around them.

Chuck
Chuck

Re: Anderson and Davis together, here's Zach Lowe's take: "Davis's shakiness on defense in space has been a bit of a surprise, and the Davis–Ryan Anderson front line has been a disaster; the Hornets have allowed 113.1 points per 100 possessions when those two share the floor, nearly 4.5 points worse than Sacramento's league-worst defense, and the worst number of any of the 40 or so New Orleans player pairs who have logged at least 275 minutes."

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

Right, and like Ryan said in the last podcast, when Lopez is on the floor it is 111 points per 100 possessions. So, you are talking about the difference between horrible and horrible. But the offense is drastically different. You get a point guard out there with them that can keep point guards from penetrating at will and getting wherever they want, whenever they want, and those defensive numbers will improve

504ever
504ever

Yeah, and how many of those Anderson/Davis minutes were against Memphis starters? Does it really matter since load Z. Randolph didn't play?

Snow
Snow

Your wife is a smart lady! She should be hired by Hornets247 lol I never would have thought of putting Vasquez at some SF. He has decent height for a SF. It could possibly work at times when it's someone who isn't on the Lebron/Durant caliber. Looking forward to some ping pong balls lol

JJacob
JJacob

It sucks when you have to abandon the season and root for terrible teams to be better than your terrible team. But hey, who doesn't like having a top 3 pick?!?!

JJacob
JJacob

By the way, the Suns beating the Rockets tonight was fairly big for our lottery odds also.

Michael Pellissier
Michael Pellissier

You know you have bad guard play when you get excited for deep step-back jumpers, even if it's Ryan Anderson taking them. I also projectile vomited when Eric Gordon tried to establish post position on Tony Allen, and Vasquez actually fed him the ball. Like you said, Roberts played pretty well tonight, but he's gotta be willing to take some chances. Davis made a 65 foot charge to the basket in transition, and Roberts was too scared to pass it. We've seen Davis pluck some awful passes out of the air this year, so at least give the big guy a shot. Reward him Mike Conley looked like Tony Parker out there tonight. Good Lord Anthony Davis has had at least 10 rebounds in 6 of the 7 games he's actually played 36 minutes. We can discuss whether Monty is wrong for playing him less than Lopez against LA all we want, but it's irrelevant, because Davis should be getting his 36 regardless of who is better right now. He did look noticeably gassed at one point, and Monty called a timeout and left him in. Kudos