Hornets Survive Late Push to Sneak by Trail Blazers 98-96

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Published: March 10, 2013
Greivis Vasquez Blazers

Despite Portland finishing the game’s final seven minutes on a 19-11 run, New Orleans was able to hang on and notch a solid victory.

We’ve seen this act before.

With 6:53 remaining in the 4th quarter, the Trail Blazers called timeout immediately after a Greivis Vasquez 3-pointer gave the Hornets a 87-77 lead. However, not one person who has watched this Hornets team over the past 10 days could have been the least bit comfortable with the situation.

Sure enough, New Orleans found themselves facing a 91-90 deficit just 4 minutes and 15 seconds later thanks to the sharp shooting of both Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews, who combined to score all 14 Portland points during that stretch. The two teams continued to go back and forth after that – a Davis put-back was followed by a Batum jumper, and an Anderson 3-pointer was followed up with a 3-pointer from Lillard, giving the Hornets the ball with 11 seconds left and trailing 96-95.

For the first seven of those seconds, Vasquez appeared to be doing what he does so often in these types of situations – aimlessly dribbling and trying to get around either his own defender or others hedging off of screens, but  lacking the burst to actually do so. To make things worse, he was being guarded by Batum, a very solid on-ball defender. Vasquez finally made his move into the paint with 4 seconds left, but he really had nowhere to go, as Batum was directly between him and the basket.

Fortunately for the Hornets, Jared Jeffries appeared to disagree. Just as Vasquez was about to run out of space and have to force up a bad shot, Jeffries took his eyes off of his own man, Ryan Anderson, to look to apply increased pressure to Greivis instead (or maybe even step in and take a charge?). Instantly, the Hornets’ point guard shoveled it off to Anderson, who easily beat Jeffries to the rim for the go-ahead bucket and the foul. I have watched the replay of this final play about a dozen times, and I still cannot for the life of me figure out why Jeffries thought he had to help Batum on this play instead of sticking close to Anderson. Jeffries is typically a good defender, but he made a costly mistake in this situation. The result was a very satisfying victory for the Hornets, who were clearly frustrated from their 2-8 record over their previous 10 games. (Go to the 43 second mark in the ESPN video recap below to see the previously described play.)

 

Three Keys to the Game

  1. Win the long range battle. Both teams shot pretty well from beyond the arc, making 11 three-pointers each. However, it took the Hornets five less shots to get those eleven makes than it took the Blazers; Portland shot 25 of them, and New Orleans attempted just 20. Every Hornets player who attempted a three-point shot made at least 44% of their attempts; Anderson was 4-9, Vasquez  was 2-4, Mason was 2-3, Miller was 2-2, and Roberts was 1-2. The Hornets needed to make these kinds of shots to win tonight, and they certainly came through.
  2. Ball control. The Hornets didn’t perform great in this area, but they didn’t do terribly, either. Out of their 83 possessions, New Orleans turned the ball over 13 times, good for a turnover rate of 15.7%, slightly higher than the 14.2% average turnover rate for Portland’s opponents this season. The Blazers were able to turn those turnovers into 19 points, 3.5 more than their season average. Those points could have been costly, but the Hornets’ 55% three-point shooting was able to cover for that difference.
  3. Protect the paint. Decent enough job by the Hornets here, as they allowed even fewer points in the paint to Portland (34) than the Blazers average per game (37). That being said, the game tonight had an exceptionally low number of possessions, so that total isn’t quite as impressive as it may appear. Still, not a bad night’s work fron New Orleans as far as interior defense is concerned.

 

Other Notes

  • So how about that Darius Miller guy, eh? Eight points on 3-5 shooting to go along with five assists, three rebounds, and zero turnovers. Potentially even more impressive is the fact that when crunch time came around, Monty Williams opted to keep him in the game over Aminu, a very encouraging vote of confidence for the young guy. Though Miller may be lacking in raw talent, he makes up for some of that with a very high basketball IQ. In just one game, he may have restored at least some faith in his ability to carve out a meaningful role in this league. I’m definitely pulling for him.
  • J.J. Hickson really impressed me tonight; enough so that I am still just as surprised now as I was back at the trade deadline when no playoff contender would have even offered a second rounder for his services. He is a menace on the glass, can handle the ball decently for a center, and appears to be cutting down on the frequency with which he takes shots outside of the paint. Should the Hornets end up moving Lopez for help at other positions this off-season, they could do a lot worse than Hickson (who is an unrestricted free agent after this season) as a possible replacement.
  • If I asked you who played the most minutes in this game for either team, would you have guessed Brian Roberts? Because with 43 minutes tonight, he’s the one. While he didn’t shoot particularly well (nine points on thirteen attempts), he did amass 9 assists and 2 steals with no turnovers. The final month of this season could be an audition for Roberts; he has a team option for next season worth just under $800K, and if he plays well enough, he could have some trade value this summer.
45 comments
YoungFella
YoungFella

Awful win - we're on the verge of top 4 ping pong balls and our choice of the top SF in this draft.

come on pelican
come on pelican

With the addition of Lillard, this Blazers team reminds me of the 2005-06 Hornets (CP3’s rookie year), which ended the season 38-44 -- proof the addition of a talented point guard can really improve a struggling team. I like Vasquez’s and Lopez’s energy and leadership and what they’ve brought to this young group, so it would be nice to see them coming off the bench next year. But it’s obvious that upgrading the PG and C positions in the offseason is a must for the Pelicans. There’s not a lot of time left to start surrounding AD23 with better players in the hope that he’ll be interested in signing a second contract to play in New Orleans.

Basketbol
Basketbol

Any upgrade to Vasquez must be a clutch time player… I would say Lowry, Lilliard, Westbrook, CP3. I dont see Bledsoe being like that. Wait another year and you will have a wide selection of Elite PG in the market, not the case this year…

Basketbol
Basketbol

Any upgrade to Vasquez must be a clutch time player... I would say Lowry, Lilliard, Westbrook, CP3. I dont see Bledsoe being like that. Wait another year and you will have a wide selection of Elite PG in the market, not the case this year...

WhoDatPelican96
WhoDatPelican96

Do you enjoy settling for a guy who may not even be a great second option at PG. He plays so well off the ball as a spot up shooter. But he is an awful point guard. Do you enjoy watching his poorly timed lobs, confusion on fast breaks, inability to play defense, and slow feet? He is costing us precious development time with Anthony Davis. AD needs a guard he can rely on. This time we can't make exceptions with our star. We did that with CP3, and look what happened. Vasquez is not the answer.

WhoDatPelican96
WhoDatPelican96

Very true statement. Don't worry, dell has made it clear in his latest chalk talk that upgrading the PG position is his main priority

YoungFella
YoungFella

We need to upgrade SF far more than PG. A hypothetical lineup next year of: Vasquez/Quality backup Gordon/Rivers Kirilenko/Porter/Miller Davis / Anderson Pekovic / Smiht That's a 6 seed if Gordon gives us 70+ games. That a potential Western power if Gordon stays healthy and Porter/Muhammad pans out.

LLHOPS
LLHOPS

These postings are halarious when it comes to Vasqez. His defenders believe he's our point guard for the future and his detractors think he's our biggest problem. The true answer is in the middle. Vasquez is too slow to defend and stay in front of even average PG's. But his passion and high basketball IQ just shows that, even though he's playing out out position, he will be in this league for many years to come. Maybe with the Pelicans as a starting shooting guard (post EG) or maybe as trade bait in one of Dell's moves. One thing is certain, the Pels will definitely bring in a quicker point in the offseason.

jsl05
jsl05

Still, the easier thing to do would be to upgrade point guard because there are many good ones and because most teams don't have a threat at small forward.

WhoDatPelican96
WhoDatPelican96

@504ever. All of those teams already had well established stars. Plus, Miami uses Lebron as a point forward, la has Kobe and Dwight, and the jazz also had Karl malone

504ever
504ever

@js105 WDP96 said: "The keys to being a truly successful team is having a speedy talented point guard. Name one team in our current era who doesn’t have what I’ve just stated" He didn't say not having a slow one. He didn't say anything about other positions. My entire point is you CAN build a team lots of different ways, and looking at successful teams supports that. They current Hornets aren't that good. They have lots of ways to approach getting better next season.

jsl05
jsl05

Miami isn't fair because they have one of the greatest players of all time and two other AllStars. Also, I wouldn't consider Mario Chalmers slow. New York isn't fair because they have one of the best lineups in the NBA at every position. I wouldn't consider Raymond Felton slow either. The Lakers aren't contending, and it wouldn't be fair because they have one of the best players of all time and a great center. The NBA has evolved so much since Stockton was in the league. The point is that a team can be successful with Vasquez starting, but every other position needs to be great. If we keep our current team, Vasquez must be upgraded.

504ever
504ever

@WDP96: Off the top of my head: Miami, L.A. Lakers (just before and with Steve Nash), Utah with John Stockton. Not one had a speed point guard!

come on pelican
come on pelican

Most Hornets fans would be lying if they said they aren't amazed at the success Vasquez has had this year as a slow footed 6 and a half foot point guard. And you've got to love his enthusiasm and team-oriented mindset. But Aminu has earned a shot at beginning next season as the starting SF. It's his job to lose. PG and C have to be the priorities for the inaugural Pelicans team.

WhoDatPelican96
WhoDatPelican96

You are very, very mistaken. The keys to being a truly successful team is having a speedy talented point guard. Name one team in our current era who doesn't have what I've just stated

Michael Pellissier
Michael Pellissier

The possessions at the end of the game were excruciating.. more ball-dominance, wasted picks, etc.. Would've been a loss without a timely offensive rebound by AD and some clutch shots by Ryno. Was really nice to see Miller stay in, like you said. He is by no means a difference-maker, but he doesn't force things on offense, and is a pretty damn good passer for a rook

mojart
mojart

Good win....Another AD Double-Double....this last 2 games of AD is very promising.future is indeed very bright....

jsl05
jsl05

Observations: -good to see AD playing close to starter's minutes -also glad to see Miller getting quality time -The fact that Roberts had 9 assists shows me that Vasquez's assist #'s are not just based on his talent. -Although this game hurts our draft position, I am of the belief that the team desperately needed a win. I was especially glad to get one against Lillarf.

WhoDatPelican96
WhoDatPelican96

Basketbol, I respect you as a person and your opinions. I apologize for being a little offensive with my post. Again, my sincere apology for offending you But now I am asking you a simple question. Would you rather have Vasquez or Bledsoe? Mediocrity or Championships?

WhoDatPelican96
WhoDatPelican96

You aren't blowing your load. Bledsoe isn't that expensive. PG is the most important position on any team. Exceptions like Vasquez can't be made. Bledsoe provides us with the same production as Vasquez, but with two bonus factors needed to be at least a good PG. Speed, and great defense. He also has a much higher ceiling than Vasquez. We can settle for SF, we can't settle anymore for PG

YoungFella
YoungFella

Blowing our load on a minor upgrade (Vasquez to Bledsoe) would be idiotic at this point. Bledsoe is unproven as a starter and insanely overvalued at this point. Much better to utilize our cap space and valuable assets (Lopez on an insanely cheap deal) to upgrade SF or C.

504ever
504ever

WDP86, But you have to factor in what you have to give up to try to get Bledsoe and the odds that he goes elsewhere, while you already have Vasquez. Also, acquiring Bledsoe doesn't make us a Championship team without many other moves, and that assumes Bledsoe will produce like a starter in N.O. the same way he did as a backup in L.A. So that's not really a fair question.

WhoDatPelican96
WhoDatPelican96

@jsl05 this guy is really annoying. Like most of the overly blind Vasquez supporters

WhoDatPelican96
WhoDatPelican96

I agree. I'm just tired of the closed mindedness of some of the Vasquez supporters

jsl05
jsl05

I'm open to all conversation even though I disagree.

Basketbol
Basketbol

...I really liked Vasquez could make 20 faked points, 7 faked rebounds, and 3 fake steals, plus 5 faked TO...

Basketbol
Basketbol

WhoDatPelican96: I am not even going to ignore you... first learn to respect, good luck!

WhoDatPelican96
WhoDatPelican96

Basketbol, do you want to go the George Shinn route and be cheap. Or do you want to win titles. Bledsoe has an inexpensive contract. And we have that whole room for a max contract thing. So I ask you basketbol, do you want titles, or mediocrity?

Basketbol
Basketbol

Let´s see what happens. Vasquez can play PG, SG or SF, depending on the opponent (I think Monty has been to strict about it, playing him PG whatever team he faces). However my biggest concern is that Hornets does not have a clutch time player...This bad set of players is capable of winning a lot of NBA teams till 6 minutes left, incredible.

jsl05
jsl05

That's a good reason. On the HR forum one of the guys attended Dell's chalk talk in which Dell said that he plans on upgrading the point guard position and could move Greivis to small forward if we aren't able to upgrade it.

Basketbol
Basketbol

"Are there better NBA point guards than Greivis Vasquez? Absolutely. Are there better NBA point guards who will earn less than $2.1 million (Vasquez's 2013-14 contract figure) next season? Absolutely not."

Basketbol
Basketbol

Because his contract is too cheap

jsl05
jsl05

Any specific reason?

Basketbol
Basketbol

I think you are going to watch Vasquez this and next year. I dont see him being transfered to another team, whatever your opinion is about his fakes stats

Basketbol
Basketbol

I am talking about WhoDatPelican96

jsl05
jsl05

Sensitive? I'm defending what I stated. Projecting? You got me there.

Basketbol
Basketbol

what´s wrong with what I said? You guys are too sensitive... who is defensive little sh**s, maybe you are projecting yourself...

jsl05
jsl05

I'd love to have Vasquez as part of the future team under two situations. 1) He's the backup. 2) We upgrade the whole roster so that it's good enough to have him as the starter.

jsl05
jsl05

I didn't say anything negative about Vasquez. I just said that he's not this amazing assister that people make him out to be based on his "blind" stats. If given the opportunity, many players can play the role of assister.

WhoDatPelican96
WhoDatPelican96

Vasquez is talented. But he isn't our PG of the future. If we could find a way to play him off the ball like we did tonight, I would be fine with that. But other than doing that, I don't want him on this team going forward