Game On: Hornets @ Pacers

Published: February 21, 2012

Hornets play second game of back-to-back-to-back against former stars David West, Darren Collison, and the Pacers.

The Hornets face the second night of a back-to-back-to-back tonight as they head to Indiana to face ex-Hornets David West and Darren Collison. The good news is that Monty stuck to his guns last night and kept everyone’s minutes relatively low, as no player had more than 30 in the loss to the Thunder. The bad news is that the Pacers had the night off and have played really well at home so far this year. Roy Hibbert, more than any other Pacer, plays extremely well at home and the combination of Kaman and Solomon will have to play better than they did last night to neutralize his effect on the game.

Keys to the Game:

1. Beware the Indy Bench

The Pacers starting unit looks good on paper, but it can be argued that Collison, Granger, and West are having their worst seasons. Hibbert and Paul George have had mini-breakout seasons, but neither of those guys are the type of player that can take a game over. What the Pacers do is wear you out with depth, as they have 11 or 12 legitimate NBA players on their roster, and they might be welcoming another (George Hill) back tonight.

For the Hornets to win this game, they will have to match the intensity and effort of the Pacers second unit, a difficult task on the second night of a stretch like this, but one they should be up for nonetheless. Amundson, Pendergraph, and Hansborough crash the boards relentlessly, take charges, and get to the line, so as scary as it is to say- we need big games from Solomon Jones and Lance Thomas tonight.

2. Attack the Interior

Hibbert is big, but he is by no means mobile, nor is he a devestating shot blocker. The majority of his blocks come from the weak side or as people try to avoid him. Take it right at the big man, and prove David West right. (You are right David, you never have played with a big like Hibbert before, because Tyson used to cover your a$$!!!) Sorry, I digress.

But the Cavs worked this formula to perfection just one week ago as Kyrie Irving spent the whole night in the paint slicing and dicing up this defense and big man Semih Erden went 7 for 8 against Hibbert and the soft Pacers D. Vasquez and Jack have to get inside and Kaman can not settle for the jumpers he settled for last night. Get to the basket and put pressure on the laterally challenged duo of West and Hibbert to make some plays.

3. Keep Indy off the offensive glass

The Pacers shoot under 43% from the field, but they average nearly 95 PPG because of their ability to get second chances (over 12 offensive boards per game). Hibbert, Hansborough, and West are the main culprits, bringing in 7 of those 12. In what seems to be a consistant theme for these keys to the game, this game will be won or lost inside. It’s unfortunate that the Hornets won’t have Landry, Smitty, or Okafor in this game, but you go to battle with what you got. The Hornets are going to need everything out of these once forgotten bigs to steal this game.

Other News and Notes:

Vegas Zone: Hornets are +10.5, over/under at 180. I like the over, but I would be scared to bet the line either way. I actually like this matchup for the Hornets, but who knows how the B to B to B will effect them. Will Monty ease up if the Hornets fall behind by double digits in the 3rd? Will it even matter? Is the Hornets bench as good as the starters at this point? I would actually take a bit of a risk tonight and take the Hornets money line and the over in this game. $20 would win me almost $100. Why not- let’s live it big!

– Ping Pong Alert: Send Martell Webster a fruit basket, as his flub last night cost the Wolves a game. And not to root for injuries, but Pekovic (who has been awesome for the Wolves) left the game with a sprained ankle and will likely sit through the All-Star break. This means more playing time for Beasley!! Wolves will head into AS break after home game with Jazz, but will face a BRUTAL stretch after the break. 15 of their next 19 will be on the road, all but one against Western Conference foes. Meanwhile, the Hornets sit in third position with regard to ping pong balls.




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