It’s been a very unfortunate week. The second longest winning streak in the Hornets woefully bad season has come to an end. It’s been that bad for us – a three game winning streak is the second longest this season.
If you looked at the four factors from the Clippers game (shooting, rebounding, turnovers, and free throws), you’d see that the Hornets were not really dominated in any category, despite the fifteen point loss. In fact, the Hornets were down by just two heading into the final quarter. Despite the Clippers failing to dominate the game, they still won easily.
Eh, ping pong balls.
What was surprising though is the fact that the offense that Monty Williams (and by extension, the Hornets) displayed was quite different from the usual I especially liked all of the activity that Anthony Davis was involved in. They ran backdoor cuts, misdirection plays and their usual roll/pop combo with Davis – who, as Brian stated Tuesday, has had a very surprising offensive season so far
To some bullet points.
- Oh, do I hate seeing Eric Gordon play the Clippers. I hope I’m not alone in saying that Eric Gordon plays with a different aggression when he’s playing the Clippers. It’s like the guy wants to prove that the Clippers made a mistake (they didn’t). I’ve already accepted the fact that we’ll probably trade him at some point in his contract. But these types of games give you some reason to say "Is it the right decision to trade him?" When he has that controlled aggression that he showed today, he can be such a nightmare for a defense. 24 points on 18 shots (with 7 free throws)? That was with Matt Barnes hounding and pushing him every chance he got. If only he could play like this for 70+ games.
- Anthony Davis had a pretty incredible night. He was 4 of 6 from midrange and simply read the defense to snatch what was there there. He’s also looking more and more comfortable on pick and pops as he is on rolls and slips. It's hard not to be excited to see him after an offseason working out with Monty. Also, for anyone counting (like me), AD is having an All-Star like month. His averages through 12 March games? 16.2 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.6 blocks 56% FG, 72% FT. He won’t win Rookie of the Monthhonors thanks to Lillard’s equally impressive March but we all know that Davis will have a larger impact on a team in the future, so why bother?
- Brian Roberts has been playing really well these past few games. Forget the numbers for a moment. You watch him play, and he’s learning to pick his spots as he develops as a point guard. He still has a tendency to dribble the air out of the ball but compared to early in the season, it’s significantly decreased. If it isn’t too much of a fuss, I’d like to think Roberts will be retained for something close to the minimum. At that price, he’s a good "bang for the buck" player.
- On the other side, Vasquez was clearly still hurting. He wasn't anything special athletically to begin with and his physical advantages were already limited from the beginning. So watching him fail to turn the corner and giving up more scores because he’s slower than his already slow self was just painful.
- Darius Miller, please be our 3-and-D player. Please?
- Last note, one reason why the Hornets had a very good offensive showing? DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin had a hard time containing the roll/pop combos executed by the Hornets. I think Zach Lowe said it really well in one of his triangle blogs: when DeAndre shows on a screen, Blake Griffin completely abandons his man to help on the "popper" and the weak-side defender doesn't rotate to impede the progress of the "roller". That’s why we saw a lot of undeterred rolls by Davis to the rim. If you combine that roll/pop combo with a deadly corner three point shooter on the weak-side corner (Chase Budinger and Corey Brewer come to mind), then it’s going to be significantly harder to defend it.
The key now is how do we improve our defensive efficiency? The Hornets allowed 128 points per 100-possession to Los Angeles, and they've ranked as one of the worse defensive teams this season (3rd worst). Your thoughts?