Hornets Overcome Sluggish Start to Defeat Timberwolves 104-92

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Published: January 11, 2013

By the time the first quarter had come to an end, all you had to do was peak at the box score to understand Monty’s sense of desperation. The Hornets appeared sluggish on both ends of the court and coach Williams was left with no other choice than to try anybody and everybody. And I mean everybody. All 13 active players, including recently signed Donald Sloan got playing time in the first quarter as Monty tried to find somebody who would give this lifeless team a boost.

The Hornets stayed within relative striking distance due in large part to some fantastic outside shooting from Ryan Anderson and Roger Mason, but still trailed by double digits for the majority of the first half. With 6:37 left in the second quarter, the Hornets trailed 39-22 and Greivis Vasquez had just picked up his third foul of the half, so Monty was forced to pull him. Ironically, it was a blessing in disguise as Gordon moved to point guard and Mason filled in at the two. The Hornets offense came to life as Gordon scored or assisted on 12 of the Hornets points as the finished the quarter on a 18-7 run to end the half.

Vasquez came back fresh in the third and shouldered the majority of the load, scoring 7 points and dishing out 7 assists in the quarter as the Hornets outscored the Wolves 30-15 to take a 9-point lead into the final quarter. The fourth quarter saw the Hornets play with perfect balance, as the ball moved ¬†around the court beautifully, often ending in Jason Smith’s hands for an 18-footer that he was drilling with consistency. If you could somehow remove the first quarter from memory, the final 36 minutes of this game might be the best stretch that the Hornets have played all year.

Box Score

Other Notes and Observations

– Austin Rivers only got five minutes, and with the way that the other four guards were playing tonight, that was probably exactly what he deserved. Roger Mason is on fire right now and Brian Roberts is playing with a confidence that Rivers has seemed to have lost, and that is why he didn’t get any minutes tonight. But the guy still plays hard and he has a great smile.

– Lance Thomas is pure energy and effort. He stat sheet is not incredibly impressive but he dove for loose balls, played terrific on-ball defense and got a key rebound and put back as the Timberwolves were trying to come back in the fourth.

– The focus seems to be all on Eric Gordon, but lets not forget that Jason Smith came back at the same time and he has been playing like the old J-Smitty after recovering from shoulder injuries and Ryan coughing in his ear. 14 points on 7 of 8 shooting tonight with 5 rebounds in just 20 minutes. Over his last 5 games, 12.6 points on just 9 shots, 64.4% from the field, 4.8 rebounds in just 23 minutes and some great help defense.

– I dont want to move on from Smith yet. Sorry. He had one play in the 4th where he set a pick for Vasquez and both men trapped. Smith ducked down, looking like he was going to fall, so the help defenders didnt rotate over. He popped back up and rolled to the basket, where Vasquez hit him for an easy dunk. Dont know if this was planned or not. If it was- brilliant. If it wasn’t- let’s start to incorporate it Monty!

– The Timberwolves had an obvious game plan for Eric Gordon, and it was to try and turn him into a perimeter shooter. For stretches of the game it worked, and for the most part, Gordon didnt make them pay. He was only 2-11 outside of the paint tonight, but the good news is that he still found a way to get into the paint to get off some floaters or kick out to open shooters when the Wolves collapsed.

– Xavier Henry got to play. He tried hard and he is a nice guy. He also helped increase Derrick Williams trade value by allowing him to get some easy layups. Henry is still young and he will likely be very good.

– Robin Lopez will not get the credit he deserves after tonight because his stats arent overly impressive, but he slowed down Pekovic, who came into this game red hot. Pekovic still got his points, but he didn’t dominate the boards, and that was because Lopez kept a body on him for the majority of the night.

– Donald Sloan played five minutes and he did not fall down once. In addition, his last name is the same as the first name of my favorite female character on Entourage. Very good player.

– Honestly, imagine being a power forward in the NBA and you have to play the Hornets. You have to cover this human pogo stick in Anthony Davis and then he finally comes out. Do you get to take a break? Of course not, because now you have to defend the best 3-point shooter in the NBA. That’s gotta suck. No other way to put it.

– The refs…… You know what, I’ll let you all finish that sentence.

Aminu

Jason Smith Brian Roberts Jason Smith Aminu Eric Gordon Rubio FRIES!!!!!

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