So, that was pretty sweet.
It's rare and intensely satisfying to see a team play such a complete game. New Orleans shot the ball well, got to the line often, rebounded their own misses, took decent care of the ball, stayed away from fouling, and boarded Atlanta's misses. And of course, there was the whole "allowing 59 points" aspect of the thing.
The Hornet defense was primarily in a man configuration for this game. Monty Williams popped the zone in and out during some stretches, but for the most part, he stayed with individual assignments. While Atlanta's total lack of a creative scorer outside of Jamal Crawford (Joe Johnson routinely settled for horrible jump shots) played a huge role, the Hornet defense was simply stifling. In many ways, this game epitomized what Monty Williams has brought to the team in 2010-2011.
On to some notes:
- The Hornets played extremely efficient offense, scoring 100 points on just 86 possessions. Much credit should go to the team's three point shooting (8 for 15), especially Marco Belinelli's barrage to open the second half.
- Chris Paul denied passing lanes very effectively in the first half. That's something he does on a nightly basis, but his three steals tonight were especially impressive.
- It was great to see David West get into it against Atlanta defenders (specifically Jarron Collins). Was Collins' ejection justified? I think it was right on the edge. Collins clearly wasn't going for the ball, and I strongly suspect that had he pulled that on a weaker player than David West, it could have been an extremely dangerous play.
- Emeka Okafor only played 23 minutes, but his 12 defensive boards played a large role in the team's success on the defensive glass. Overall, New Orleans rebounded 85% of Atlanta misses (of which there were a ton)
- Quincy Pondexter started for Trevor Ariza and looked extremely poised as the game began. He scored inside, made a three, set up Okafor for two dunks (one of which he missed), and was generally aggressive. His defense, while not up to Ariza's standards, was solid as well.
- Sure, you can categorize the entire second half as "garbage time," but D.J. Mbenga played a pretty decent game in Aaron Gray's stead. He finished with 4 offensive rebounds and a thunderous throw down off a Marcus Thornton feed in the fourth quarter.
- Mike Bibby barely missed out on an 18 trillion (!), by virtue of a single foul and assist.
- The Atlanta crowd was terrible. Example 1: you could easily hear Chris Paul and Monty Williams or David West and Emeka Okafor conversing on the floor, throughout the game. Example 2: when Chris Paul went to the line late in the second quarter, the crowd broke out a "Marvin's better!" chant. As John Hollinger tweeted re: the chant, "Better at what? Yahtzee?"
- While neither Jarrett Jack nor Willie Green scored efficiently, Marcus Thornton finished with 11 points on 7 shots. Additionally, he finished with 7 rebounds. Thornton has been huge on the defensive glass all season and that needs to be a major factor in the playing time debate.
- Josh Smith has to be one of the most easily baited players in the league. Leave him at 20 feet, and he becomes absolutely convinced that he can drill it from there. Offer an off-ball player a sliver of space, and Smith is certain he can thread the needle on a ridiculous pass. Smith finished with 5 turnovers and while 7 misses in 12 shots isn't awful, many of those misses were from inefficient areas of the floor.
- And finally... forget the analysis for a second... we just beat a playoff team 100-59!