Hornets Defense steps up in victory over Magic

Published: February 11, 2011

In the first half against Orlando the Hornets had one of their most impressive offensive performances, but it was their defense in the fourth quarter that got them the 99-93 victory. The Hornets defense did a fantastic job of keeping Dwight Howard out of the paint for a large part of the 4th quarter and were still able to contest Orlando’s shots on the perimeter. After a 28 point 3rd quarter that saw Orlando tie the game back up, the Hornets held the Magic to just 13 points on 5 of 17 shooting in the fourth.

New Orleans had so thoroughly frustrated Dwight Howard in the first half that he seemed content with taking a back seat in the second half. He just didn’t have the fire that he had early on, and I am sure his own teammates had as much to do with that as the Hornets did. I understand that there are quality players on that squad, former All-Stars even, but when you have that big of a mismatch down low, you should exploit it for 48 minutes. Instead, the Magic decided a more balanced attack would be appropriate- and that is why nobody considers them legit contenders to come out of the East despite their insane payroll.

And now our new segment (stolen from a small Canadian Sport you might have heard of… Mike Mac’s 3 Stars of the Game!!!)

3. Trevor Ariza

The guy didn’t have a great stat line but he was fantastic on the perimeter, closing out on shooters and making rotations. It was his first game back and he seemed 100% health wise, playing 40 minutes and chucking 16 shots. Yes, I know he was 4-16 and 1-7 from three but as I said, this game was won with defense and Trevor was our best defender tonight. Glad he came back before the break, and I have a feeling that the Hornets will have a nice little run when Emeka comes back.

2. Gilbert Arenas

So there Dwight Howard was dominating the Hornets, who had seemingly no answer for the guy. Little did they know, however, that Agent Zero was on the case. Arenas came in the game and started dominating the ball as usual, killing any chance Dwight had of getting in a groove. Arenas got hot for a stretch in the third, but in the long run that worked against the Magic because it gave them a reason to look away from Dwight. The Hornets didn’t have anybody capable of slowing down Howard, but ironically the Magic did.

1. Willie Green

If I told you entering the game that Willie Green was going to take nearly twice as many shots as CP3, how fast would you have called your bookie and wagered on Orlando? Now it is true that Green made some mistakes tonight, one of which led to a five point swing as Willie messed up a fast break opportunity for the Hornets that ended in a Reddick 3-ball, but all in all he was impressive. 24 points in 36 minutes, 50% from the field, and just an overall confidence that carried throughout the team. He took the first five shots of the game for the Hornets and the Magic were forced to account for him, which in turn gave other guys more space. Willie Green, you are the #1 star of the night!

Other News and Notes:

– We tend to be overly enthusiastic after victories and overly critical after losses, but regardless of the result tonight we have to acknowledge the fact that CP3 is not 100%- and to me that is not such a bad thing to say. If he is 100%, then he has just gotten worse as a player. At least if he is still somewhat injured, there is a chance that we might see old CP3 in the future. My guess is that he is just taking it easy until the playoffs come, at which point he will whip off the knee brace and reclaim his throne as best PG in the league when it matters the most.

– Jack had a great first half, going 5-6 for 13 points. He only got 4 minutes in the second half, producing two very ugly turnovers, but I am thankful for the first half.

– Earl Clark gave D West some problems on both ends of the floor. I think Van Gundy moves him out of the rotation once Bass comes back, but I think the guy has a decent future in this league if he lands with the right team.

– David Anderson had a quiet 10 points, and is starting to make a case for being the first big off the bench. Will this last or will teams just adjust like they did with J Smitty? Time will tell, but it seems to me that Anderson has a higher release point on his shot, making it more difficult to block. I can see him sustaining this.

– Aaron Gray picked up 2 fouls in the first 5 minutes, as predicted, and only 1 more over the next 24. Very impressive, although that is just another example of how Howard’s teammates looked away in the second half.

– Sasha Pavlovic and Marco Belinelli combined to play 19 very nondescript minutes. Marco hit a big three late in the 3rd, but that was the only shot made by the duo. Let Willie keep playing and just give those 19 minutes to Thornton. No reason for either of those guys to be on the floor.

– Best Van Gundy pic comment came from HiMyNameisSteven:

“Thank god i don’t have to shop at victoria’s secret anymore, this gives me support and comfort”

– Lastly, gotta give Monty big props for standing up for his players. David Anderson was called for a phantom foul and then an even more phantom tech. That set Monty off, as he got more fired up than I thought he could get. He lit a fire under the team as well, who outscored Orlando 15-4 after the outburst. Thank you Monty.


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