The Hornets comfortably led throughout tonight's matchup and ended up winning rather handily. Our starters sprinted out of the gate quickly and built a 22-13 advantage on fantastic offensive execution (10-13 from the field). Meanwhile, defensively, we did an excellent job in the paint as the Sixers went on to miss their first eight attempts inside the box. With things working so well, Monty Williams stuck with the starting five longer than usual, for the first 8:44 of the game.
The 2nd quarter wasn't nearly as effective as the bench struggled for the most part and Greivis Vasquez was uncharacteristically off, so much so, Monty yanked him with 2 minutes to go before halftime. Jrue Holiday was consistently abusing the General as evidenced by his 12 points and 9 assists in the first half. Still, the Hornets went into the break with a 6 point lead due to the continued excellent shooting (58.5% from the floor) and maintaining a healthy 22-15 edge on the boards.
The third quarter started rather slowly as the Hornets missed their first five shots and turned the ball over 3 times. However, Robin Lopez got us on the board 3 minutes in and then the Hornets went on a fantastic run. In the next 3 minutes, thanks to some good hustle by Anthony Davis, the Hornets increased the margin to 8. Then the reserves finished the quarter in grand fashion to build a lead of 86-68. Xavier Henry and Brian Roberts both closed out the quarter hitting a three and making two foul shots a piece.
With Doug Collins at his wit's end, he set Nick Young loose. In the blink of an eye, he went on to score the Sixers first 14 points of the fourth quarter, despite Monty shifting the defensive responsibilities from Henry to Gordon. However, this hiccup never really put the game in doubt as the Hornets offense continued to convert on their end, resulting in our second largest margin of victory on the season.
1. Anthony Davis. The Unibrow, in his limited 20 minutes, did serious work. From his excellent defense (2 steals, 2 blocks) to his 7 rebounds to flashing a consistent perimeter shot, he arguably put together his best game since Eric Gordon's return. Had he been allowed to play a full allotment of minutes his stat line would have undoubtedly been much more impressive. My best guess is that Monty decided to limit his run tonight so that we can rely on him tomorrow against Kevin Garnett and the Celtics.
2. Hornets rebounding. As I assumed in the game thread, the Hornets ended up destroying the Sixers in the paint and on the glass, 48-32. All four of our rotation bigs had good statistical nights and Aminu even chipped in 8 rebounds despite playing under 23 minutes.
3. Hornets offense. Early in the game, Eric Gordon's jumper finally found the range as he hit his first four shots. Grevis Vasquez finished with 23 points on 18 shots and Xavier Henry, who saw time over Lance Thomas today, put up 11 in a mere 14 minutes. The Hornets finished the night hitting 53% of their field goals and 56% from beyond the arc.
1. Vasquez/Henry's defense. Despite their offensive prowess, these two players were complete disasters on the other end of the floor. Although several other players guarded Holiday at times, Vasquez had the responsibility the majority of the night and was totally ineffective. Jrue had no problems getting a shot anywhere on the floor and was constantly finding teammates for easy scores. Meanwhile, Henry allowed Nick Young to catch fire and in general was bad as he committed 4 fouls including one on a Nick Young jumper and falling for a typical Dorell Wright headfake.
2. Guarding the perimeter. The Sixers hit their first 6 shots from behind the arc and went on to shoot over 50% from there, despite missing 4 of their last 6 three point attempts. For a change, an opponent's good shooting didn't effect the outcome of the game, but it's apparent we still have plenty of issues staying with shooters on the floor.
3. Backup point guard. The offense continues to suffer too many times when Vasquez sits. Roberts is better suited for a Jason Terry type of role while Austin Rivers continues to be held back by a lack of confidence, resulting in some awful decisions. It's been preached before, but it's time Monty starts staggering the minutes of Gordon and Vasquez whereby neither of them are off the floor together for more than a few possessions.
Tomorrow, the Hornets take the court at TD Bank Garden where they'll face a hot Boston Celtics team that is on a 6 game winning streak. Likely, a fresh Anthony Davis will get plenty of run, but fans should be worried Eric Gordon may be unavailable. He's yet to play in a back-to-back and tonight Monty had him out there for 32 minutes. Looks like Monty might be planning on giving Austin some decent run, maybe in hopes that it affects Doc's decision making. Geaux Hornets!