Hey, a close victory!
Battling flu-like symptoms, Anthony Davis capped one of his weaker statistical games in recent weeks with a final second tip-in, and the Hornets sunk Boston. My quick notes from this one:
- The Hornets' second half defense was markedly better than the first; New Orleans allowed 31 points on 23 first quarter possessions. They ceded just 31 points on a combined 46 second half possessions. Tightened defense was really what allowed the team to stay close and eventually win in the end despite shooting poorly from the floor and committing plenty of turnovers (20% turnover rate).
- Jeff Green had his way with Anthony Davis' defense at times in the first quarter, which brings up an interesting point -- as Davis' interior and help defense has improved through the second half of the year, his perimeter D, largely touted as a game-changing option for the future at the start of the season, has not. This isn't a huge deal at all since obviously neither of the two best big men defenders of the past 15 years -- Garnett and Duncan -- did much perimeter work. Still interesting to note.
- Al-Farouq Aminu really struggled to handle Paul Pierce's dizzying array of slow motion moves. In a way, Ryan Anderson's bulk almost makes him the more ideal candidate to defend Pierce even though he's clearly the inferior defender; on Pierce's crucial missed jumper at the 0:40 mark in the 4th, Anderson's strong contest played a role.
- It was a strong night from Brian Roberts, who, it should be noted, still ranks in the top-5 in PER among minutes-qualified rookies. Roberts essentially canceled out Green, Boston's top bench option, and Ryan Anderson's 21/5 ensured that the Hornets dominated the bench battle.
- Still not sure what's really going on with minutes or rotations. I'll settle for not dwelling on it too much after a win, but BenDerDonDat's comment in the gamethread still rings true: "Monty's Dog house is always open." Oh, indeed.
- I thought Monty Williams ran another excellent out-of-timeout play for a Ryan Anderson three in the final minute, for the second consecutive game. It was simple enough; Anderson inbounded to Eric Gordon, hovered near the Boston bench for a second until an Anthony Davis screen sprung him wide open into the corner. Last time out, he missed the corner three; tonight he drew a foul call. I was actually quite surprised that Boston fell for such a ridiculously simple play design, especially with an inbounder as proficient at shooting as Ryan Anderson, but it proved to be a strong call nonetheless.
- Eric Gordon's defense on Paul Pierce during Boston's penultimate possession needs to be mentioned. Gordon switched onto Pierce after a screen drew away Aminu and immediately bodied him up on the perimeter. Gordon's strength prevented Pierce from backing him down effectively, and when he went to the turnaround fadeaway, Gordon poked the ball, forcing him to re-adjust. Huge play that won't be in the conventional box score or perhaps most fans' memory after the game, but one certainly worth mentioning.
- On the final play, the Hornets did go with an Eric Gordon isolation again, something we've obviously become very leery of. Still, it wasn't business as usual; some side motion on the left wing involved Anthony Davis trying to free up Ryan Anderson and clearing out the strong side of everyone except Brian Roberts ensured that if Gordon beat Avery Bradley (which he sort of did), he'd have a kick-out option to Roberts if Paul Pierce decided to help off of him (he didn't). So an isolation, but an isolation with more options than we've been used to. I guess that's progress.
Thankfully Anthony Davis was there to save the day.