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Hornets 105, Nets 91: A Win That Was Big and Easy

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30 of the Hornets' 76 field goal attempts were taken by Chris Paul, David West, and Marcus Thornton. The Hornets won comfortably.

It's funny what a little home cooking will do for you. Just two nights after finishing a miserable mini-road trip against the Eastern Conference, the Hornets were fully in control of this game. 

More impressively, the Hornets distributed their attempts very evenly among their best scorers. David West took 12 shots, Marcus Thornton took 10, Chris Paul took 8, and Emeka Okafor took 13 on a night he was really feeling it. Sure, the Hornets opted to force feed the ball to Ariza late with the game well in hand, but even that couldn't put a damper on a very heartening offensive effort.

Let's go with a statistical bent for this recap because quite a few of the advanced numbers jump out:

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Pace

It didn't appear that way, but this game didn't feature a whole lot of possessions. Avery Johnson has historically coached slow offenses, and Monty Williams has been at the head of one of the league's slower offenses this year as well. The Hornets' high offensive rebound figures skew the overall possessions count a little bit (offensive rebounds do not reset possession), but this was largely a game played in the half-court.

Shooting

This was the number one reason the Hornets won this game. They may not have defended the way we're accustomed to, but they put the ball in the bucket with ridiculous efficiency.

Chris Paul went 6 for 8, Marco Belinelli went 6 for 8, David West went 7 for 12, Emeka Okafor went 8 for 13, and Marcus Thornton went 7 for 10. Ariza's 3 for 11 line was really the only blip to be found (among those who took a significant number of shots, of course). Impressively, 66% of all made Hornet field goals were assisted. Chris Paul's 14 assists played a huge role in the obviously, but Ariza also chipped in 4 assists along with Jack's 3 off the bench. The Hornets were shooting wide open shots all night long, and the final result showed it.

Turnovers

This was the one area where New Jersey outplayed us. Normally a turnover-prone team (14% turnover rate), the Nets did a tremendous job of taking care of the ball. The Hornets' rate tonight of 16% was a shade above their season average of 14% (which is also the league average). Outside of Trevor Ariza, no Hornet had any particularly egregious turnovers. Ariza lost it three times in pretty basic dribbling situations.

Rebounding

Dominance on both ends.

Nets' opponents grab an average of 75% of all Net missed shots on the season. Tonight, the Hornets pulled down 80.5% of New Jersey misses. More impressive was the performance on the offensive glass. On the year, the Nets are the league's 7th best defensive rebounding team. Opponents pull down around 14% of their own misses when they play the nets. Tonight? We collected 40% (!) of our own missed shots.

The credit is shared by various Hornets. Okafor led the charge with 4 offensive boards. He's really doing a spectacular job of batting loose rebounds out to the perimeter, the way Tyson Chandler once did. Jason Smith pulled down 3 OREBs. His hustle tonight was a joy to watch; he went after every loose ball, regardless of if he had a reasonable chance of getting to it. David West and Trevor Ariza each contributed 2 offensive rebounds in their 30+ minutes of play. Finally, and impressively, D.J. Mbenga snatched two offensive rebounds in just 6 minutes (and had five overall and a blocked shot to boot). I'm really a huge fan of Monty Williams using Mbenga in limited doses. He brings energy, height, blocking ability, and some quality rebounding ability.

Final Notes

Emeka Okafor did a great job bottling up Brook Lopez. I mentioned in the pre-game that Lopez has been having a down season, but he still has multiple inches and pounds on Okafor. Until garbage time, Lopez was severely limited by Okafor's presence. His final line is nothing to brag about- 16 points on 16 shots, 4 total rebounds. David West also did a good job helping Okafor in the paint. Watching the pair work together on defense this year has been fun and also, honestly, nothing short of stunning, given the way last season unfolded.

Marco Belinelli had his shot going from the opening tip. He did most of his work early before turning the scoring load over to others. Among other things, he had a nifty drive and finish on Stephen Graham in the third and, of course, knocked down his open shots.

In case anyone was keeping track, Ariza's primary defensive assignment- Travis Outlaw- finished 3 for 11 on the night. Ariza's offense continues to be inexcusable, but again, the defense is still there.

Finally, Marcus Thornton was awesome. He won't shoot like this (7 for 10 overall, 4 for 5 from three, 18 points) every night, but the point is this- he poses a significant threat to the defense every single night. Opposing teams have to cover the three point line against him, they have to fill the paint when he drives, and ultimately, they have to game-plan for him, regardless of how his night ultimately unfolds. Let's hope he continues to see minutes when Willie Green returns. On that note, let's also continue to keep Willie Green in our minds as he weathers this tough period. 

Hornets are off till Sunday. It's premature to say a corner was turned tonight (against a bad Eastern team, at home), but there were surely multiple signs of progress.