Stellar Second Half for Hornets leads to 102-81 Rout of Bucks

Published: December 3, 2012

This game was entirely a tale of two halves. It really felt like the Hornets got outplayed in the first half, yet they took a three point lead into halftime purely thanks to the Bucks’ strange inability to make two-point shots. Milwaukee only shot 36.4% (12-33) from inside the 3-point line compared to 51.3% (20-39) for New Orleans. Apart from that, the Bucks made 5 out of 9 attempts from long range (Jennings was 3-4), they out rebounded the Hornets on both ends and got to the line far more frequently.

The second half was an entirely different story. The Hornets became much more disciplined defensively and didn’t give up nearly as many trips to the line; Milwaukee attempted just six free throws in the second half compared to a whopping 17 in the first half. New Orleans also flipped the switch in the rebounding department. In the first half, the Bucks had as many offensive rebounds as the Hornets had defensive rebounds (11). In the second half, however, the Hornets had more offensive rebounds (8) than the Bucks had defensive rebounds (7), quite an impressive turnaround. I asked Joe to find out whether or not these two areas were a point of emphasis in the locker room at halftime, and he was able to get a great response from Coach Monty Williams:

Yeah, we talked about it. Our assistant coaches do a great job of pointing out things like that. Monta and Jennings were attacking the basket and our bigs weren’t stopping the ball, and Randy and Brian Gates, who run our defense, made our guys realize that and understand that if we can stop the ball, then once we force up a tough shot and if we can get everybody to rebound, we can get some easy baskets. The assistant coaches did a great job of emphasizing and reminding guys who we are, what we’re trying to do. We call it game plan discipline. We feel like it’s something that can change from game to game, and when you’re playing guys like Ellis and Jennings, you want to keep those guys out of your paint.


Let’s take a look at the three keys to the game from my preview this afternoon and see how the Hornets did.

1) Take care of the ball, no matter what position you play. Check. The Hornets committed just 12 turnovers as a team – five of them shot clock violations – and allowed only 10 Milwaukee points off of those turnovers, just half of their season average.  The Bucks, on the other hand, committed 16 turnovers which led to 27 points for New Orleans. Great job by the Hornets in this area.

2) Work hard on the defensive glass. From a defensive rebound rate standpoint, the Hornets fared pretty poorly all game long in this regard. New Orleans only pulled down 24 defensive rebounds and allowed 19 offensive rebounds to Milwaukee, which is far from a respectable total. That being said, Monty clearly knew this was a problem based on the quote above and the result was an increased attention to the issue in the second half, so at least adjustments were made.

3) Remain disciplined on defense. Out of all of the halftime adjustments, this one seemed to have the biggest impact. In the first half, the Hornets were not adhering to this key at all, committing 14 fouls which resulted in 17 free throw attempts for the Bucks. In the second half, however, New Orleans fouled Milwaukee 9 times for a total of just 6 free throw attempts. Problem solved, and as a result, the Hornets cruised to their first double-digit victory of the season.


Other notes from tonight’s game:

  • Improved perimeter defense on Dunleavy. Clearly, the Hornets remembered what he did to them in their first meeting two weeks ago. After going 4-7 from long range in Milwaukee, Dunleavy attempted just two 3-point attempts tonight, making one of them. He got a couple open looks, but overall he had a significantly more difficult time getting free tonight than he did during their game in November.
  • Strong game from the Hornets’ bench. This group came to play tonight, outscoring the Bucks’ bench 34-28. Smith led the bench in scoring with 12 points on 12 shots, along with 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. Rivers and Henry struggled (just one Henry made jumper out of 11 field goal attempts), but Roberts and Thomas made up for it, contributing ten points each on just seven and five shots respectively. A case could certainly be made that to this point, the Hornets’ fifth big man (Thomas) has been more consistent than any of the team’s wings. Most impressive of all, perhaps, was that the bench only turned the ball over once in a combined 103 minutes of action.
  • Robin Lopez owned the rim on offense. He consistently put himself in great position down low to either score or grab offensive rebounds (4 total) and turn them into points. His goose egg in the defensive rebound category is fairly frustrating, but given his 21 points on just 10 shots (5-5 from the FT line) and zero turnovers in 23 minutes of action, it would be very difficult to be upset with his all-around performance.
  • I cannot understand why Henry is playing over Miller. It makes absolutely no sense. The one glaring reason is that the Hornets are trying to salvage some trade value out of X, but it’s not going to work, because he is awful. Miller shoots the ball better and plays smarter, so it makes no sense to keep throwing Henry out there only to watch him fail.

Though they have been largely unsuccessful at doing so, the Hornets will try to carry this win over to Wednesday night when they host the dreaded Los Angeles Lakers. Somehow, we’re letting Los Angeles native Jake Madison cover this game, so don’t let him make you too angry with his lack of hatred for the Lake Show. Thanks again to Joe and Andrew for the in-game photos and postgame quotes.


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