Snapping a three game losing streak, New Orleans dismissed Sacramento handily for the second time in a month. On paper, both teams have performed equally horrendously on the season, but from the first quarter on, New Orleans pulling away began to feel inevitable. And as it turned out, it was.
The defense proved vaguely passable (95 points allowed on 91 possessions for a 104 average; Sacramento averages 104 on the season while New Orleans normally a cedes a much worse 109), improving in the second and forth quarters after questionable efforts in both the first and third. The Hornets did a decent enough job on the defensive glass and defended the paint adequately, but as has proven to be the case so many, many times this season, they failed miserably in covering the perimeter.
Indeed, some of the bounces leading to wide open threes were fortuitous for Sacramento, coming at the ends of shot clocks and via grimace-inducing bounces, but ceding 12 for 19 shooting from beyond the arc is rarely ever justifiable. It's obviously quite a ways away to the offseason, but perimeter defense, rotations, and close-outs have to be a primary area of concern for the 2013-2014 season. Pace-adjusted, the Hornets rank in the league's top 5 in terms of three pointers attempted per possession, and much of that correlates strongly with just how tasty those looks are.
But switching gears to the positive: since the Drummond Debacle, Anthony Davis has hit a rather splendid groove. Tonight marked the 5th straight game in double digits for him since the visit to Detroit on the 11th. Davis' off-ball movement at this point is just a pleasure to watch. He dives when he should, he clears when spacing is needed, and his hands and ability to get to the rim from the three point line without dribbling are making him ferocious in transition. That his jumper ability seems to improve by the game seems unfair.
Ryan Anderson had a strong night, and in particular, did it without the three. As great as he is to watch when his shot is on, these nights almost seem to stand out more. He beat players off the dribble, spun around defenders he had his back to, created for teammates, grabbed 5 offensive boards, and, well why not, knocked down a pair of threes anyway. Al-Farouq Aminu's offensive night was quiet, but between the 3 blocks, 3 steals, and 8 rebounds he put up and Anderson's performance, New Orleans got some tremendous forward minutes.
Greivis Vasquez's 13 assist, 1 turnover night needs to be mentioned as well, especially after his performance (notably his shooting) has dipped of late. The Hornets had just 9 turnovers on 91 possessions as a team. And complementing Vasquez at guard, Eric Gordon's 17 point/8 assist (5 turnover) night and Roger Mason's 13 points on 7 shots game came in handily.
Regardless of the opponent, it's nice to see a win regardless. The Hornets finish this current homestand against Brooklyn on Tuesday, preceding the back end of the road B2B in Oklahoma on Wednesday.
Check out Sactown Royalty for the opposite side.