They've been division rivals. They've played a close series before. They've had personnel exchanges before (Demps and Monty are part of the Spurs lineage of demi-god front offices). They even have bigs that are compared to each other.
Yes, these franchises are so intertwined that they even had a lovely rendezvous in San Antonio for a cup of tea (or what they call "practice". Whatever). It's like the Rougarous (as they'll hence forth be known to me) and the Spurs are brothers living in the same household.
And yes, tonight the Hornets got their ass handed to them from big brother.
There was never a doubt who would win this game - the Spurs pretty much controlled it from start to finish. Sure there were instances where if the breaks went the Hornets' way, they would have closed the game to a 1 PT or 2 PT game -- but at that point, we'd have had to ask an unanswerable question -- "who will close the game for us?" (Mandatory Eric Gordon reference).
Before going to the key points of the game, I'll say this -- I loved watching the game even if the Hornets never got the score close. As I've said, process, process, process. I would rather the Hornets follow the process and don't get the result (lose) than not follow the process and get a win. I know, I know. Every team wants wins!
Well, I want championships. And wins achieved that are not via the right process are not going to get us championships. We want sustainability. We want playoff contention, not just playoff first/second round exits.
I keep reminding everybody of this because too many things are lost in frustration. Yes, there are a lot of things that we can get frustrated about -- missed shots, blown rotations, stone feet among others -- but let's get frustrated at the "right" flaws. Not missed shots, but badly executed possessions. Not offensive rebounds but blown box outs. Not turnovers per se but bad passes and shaky dribbling. Not aggressiveness but agitation.
So on to the bullet points:
- If you follow me on twitter (@nicobaguio), you'd know that for the longest time, I've wanted Vasquez to try moving into the post. Vasquez isn't a quick guard - everybody knows that. But he's a strong, wily guard that has channeled his passion and effervescence into a solid NBA career (so far). He doesn't have an advantage on the perimeter -- he's so slow that he can't even break away from Tim Duncan on a dribble drive on the perimeter. But if he's going to be matched up with the 6'3" and below players that we like to call "PGs", then he has a 3 inch advantage over them. Couple that with his superb vision (that he doesn't like to use each and every play) and putting him in the post would be a good matchup. Tonight, we saw maybe 6 possessions where the Hornets went straight into postups with him. He's still figuring it out but if the Hornets plan on making Vasquez their guard of the future, playing Vasquez in the post is a worthwhile investment.
- On that note, I'll blurt out the mandatory "VASQUEZ MISSED DAVIS ON SO MANY PLAYS".
- Ryan Anderson will have his off nights. That's part of the game when your game is built on the perimeter. For me? This was a good game still for Anderson - despite going 5-15. He was taking 3s that he should make (an open transition 3, and a PnR 3 where he had a second to set his feet better). He was also showing thosestraight line drives that he's quietly developing. Again, move the decision ratio of contested 3s to drives from 1 to 0 -- more shot fake, straight line drives please. Didn't notice anything defensively he was doing wrong or right. That's what happens when the Spurs play in their "cheat mode".
- Anthony Davis overhelped quite a bit this game. I know he has long arms and he can cover so much ground, but you have to pick your spots when to help. A Stephen Jackson post up with McGuire defending him? I'd rather see Jackson try and score from the post. He also missed rotations on several pick-and-rolls. I can't blame him entirely for that since the Spurs are one of the best PnR teams in the league (they rank 6th in PPP on PnR which doesn't include the spot up situations they create from crisp passes. They rank 4th in spot up situations as well). They create so much shot opportunities from a simple ball screen action that it's unfair.
- Offensively, Anthony Davis continues to impress me. The Hornets run those HORNS sets where Davis initiates the offense. I love those since it puts Davis at the center of the offensive attack - even if the ball isn't in his hands. His touch around the rim is something that's surprised me. He's just exceeded even my wildest offensive projections for him.
- Rivers had a "bad game" if we looked at the stats - raw or advanced. But I actually felt like he had a good game. He wasn't "Hyde" Rivers - passive and scared. He was attacking really well on most occasions. His defense was inconsistent. But I would have loved seeing Rivers get Parker. He had some nice moments with Parker (even though Parker still scored over him). Forced him into tough shots. That's all you can hope for.
- Brian Roberts was playing really well. He was attacking off a pick really well. He had two beautifully executed floaters where he used the roll man as a weapon. He missed one (or maybe 2? Can't remember the other one) 3 PT shot that was makeable so again, that's all you can ask -- taking good shots within the offense.
- Henry played surprisingly well after a terrible first minute. I still wonder how Henry continues to fail to make it as an NBA regular. Maybe he's Monty and Dell's next Jason Smith? A player who nobody knew that the duo can turn into someone around replacement level? I hope so. Strong upper body (exemplified by that And-1), still a beautiful stroke and he's left handed like me. We left handers are always good at things.
- For BenDerDonDat's sake, I'll put the Aminu DNP count at 2 -- how long? I wager 4. No reason, just a wild guess.
Check out: Pounding The Rock for views on the other side. Just don't check their Tuesday Trade column.