Hornets Defense Swarms the Bulls in the Windy City

Published: November 3, 2012

Hornets walk into the United Center without Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis, but walk out of there with a victory

Last night the Chicago Bulls shot 66% in the first half as they raced out to a twenty point lead. Tonight, the Hornets made them work for everything and the result was a field goal percentage that was slashed in half, as the Bulls shot just 33% (29-88) in this game. The Bulls did grab 15 rebounds, but when you take into consideration the fact that they missed 59 shots, I would call that a victory for a Hornets team missing Anthony Davis. Anderson was a monster on the boards, grabbing 13 total (10 defensive), while Aminu and Lopez chipped in with 6 and 7, respectively.

New Orleans raced out to an early lead, as Chicago turned it over eight times in the first seven minutes, but the Hornets didn’t step on their throat when the opportunity was there. Instead, they took some bad shots and Marco Belinelli got hot at the end of the first, pulling the Bulls to within three at the end of the first frame. The second quarter saw the Bulls take the lead and for a while there it looked like they were going to pull away. With 25 seconds left, the Bulls were up four before a sequence occured that changed the momentum of the game.

Nate Robinson raced down the floor and put up a layup that Austin Rivers chased down and blocked from behind. The ball ricocheted off the glass and into Darius Miller’s hands, who handed it to Rivers. He raced up court to find a wide-open Greivis Vasquez behind the arc. Swish. Nate Robinson raced back up the court, hoping to atone for the last play and missed a 22-footer. Ryan Anderson rebound, outlet pass to Vasquez, pull up three. Swish. Just like that, instead of going into the half down 46-40, the Hornets were up 46-44. Eight point swing in twenty five seconds. The Hornets came out in the third with a 14-8 run that gave them a comfortable lead that they never surrendered.

Quick Hits

– Before those two made three’s at the end of the half, Vasquez was 0-7, and six of those misses led to transition opportunities for the Bulls, as they scored 13 points on fast breaks following Vasquez misses in the first half. His misses often came off long and Vasquez did not get back in transition, so the result was multiple three-on-ones that led to 2, and sometimes 3 points.

– Jason Smith was the game MVP, hands down. 16 points on just five shots and two blocks in just 16 minutes. His numbers were fantastic, but he gets this honor from me because he made the play that won the game for the Hornets. The Rivers play was nice, but that came in the second quarter. This came with 3:02 in the fourth quarter, Hornets up four and struggling to find any offense. Greivis ran a pick and pop with Ryan Anderson, who shorted a contested three. Three Bulls stood in the paint ready to grab the board, but Smith tipped the ball out of their hands, gathered it after it hit the ground and put it back up for a six point lead. The way the Hornets were performing offensively at that point, it would have been tough for them to close out Chicago if they had gone down and cut the lead to one or two. Huge play, highly efficient, and constantly rotating and contesting shots on defense. You sir, are game MVP.

– Smith was fantastic in the fourth and won this game for the Hornets, but Robin Lopez and Al-Farouq Aminu were my co-MVP’s of the first half. When either of these guys try to create their own offense, it is painful to watch, but when they let others create for them, they are fantastic at finishing. The two combined to score 24 points on 16 shots, shooting 11-17 from the field. But make no mistake, it was their defense that will make Monty smile in the film room tomorrow. Aminu was everywhere once again, rotating beautifully and contesting everything. Lopez, meanwhile, had four big blocks and changed another half a dozen shots in the paint tonight. There is a reason Carlos Boozer shot 1-8 from the field, and that reason’s name is Robin Lopez.

– Austin Rivers had, by far, his best game as a Hornet, but that’s not really saying much. Offensively, we saw flashes, including a one minute stretch in the third quarter that featured a beautiful drive to the bucket, followed by a pull-up 17 footer. He was much improved on the defensive end, finding his way through screens all night long as Rip Hamilton ran him ragged. There is no doubt that he can play the point in this league, as he showed himself to be a much better ball handler than Vasquez. He just needs to develop a jumper that teams will respect, and once he does that, lanes will begin to open up. If you missed the game, check out the Austin Rivers highlight reel.

– Ryan Anderson was forced to take shots in this game that he would never take had Davis and/or Gordon been on the court, but such is life for an offensive minded player on the court with a collection of below average offensive players. He tried to force the action a couple of times and the result was either a turnover or a poorly missed shots, but if we are talking about plays of the night, Ryno had one of his own. Anderson chased down a missed shot on the offensive end, saved it right before he went out of bounds and then came back on the court, spotted up in the corner for three and drained it. A ball that should have gone out of bounds, and to the Bulls, instead ends up in Anderson’s hands and results in three points for the Hornets.

– Checking out the advanced box score, you can see that Turnovers and Rebounds were a bit of a problem, but Lopez and Aminu anchored a defense that kept us in the game. And while Lopez was a beast down low, Jason Smith actually had a higher block %. And for all the praise we have given Aminu, and rightfully so, he still had a TO% of 33.3- which is two time higher than what he average last year when he led the league. Meanwhile, Austin Rivers steal % (4.7) was fantastic.

– Hornets don’t play again until Wednesday, and if history is any indicator, we won’t know until 5:00 PM that day whether Davis will be in the lineup. Williams was furious over the NBA concussion rules that prevented Davis from playing tonight, a game that would have been a homecoming for Davis. My guess is that he is back in practice Monday or Tuesday and he plays on Wednesday, but with head injuries you just never know.


  1. Pingback: Hornets coach Monty Williams ridicules NBA’s concussion policy – Chicago Sun-Times | Basketball.sportsreports.tk

  2. Pingback: Hornets Outplay Bulls on the Road, Win 89-82 | NOLA DEFENDER

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