Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Mark your calenders. For the first time all season, Hornet fans were treated to a live showing of Demps and Monty's vision of the future. Tonight, we looked like potential championship material. From Al-Farouq Aminu's activity to Anthony Davis causing havoc around the rim to Eric Gordon playing like a star. Oh yeah, Greivis Vasquez was pretty good again too.
The game got off to a choppy start as both teams had 3 turnovers a piece within the first three minutes. Then the Hornets were able to focus their energy much better to build an 18-10 lead. Everyone was aggressive but no one set the tone better than the Commish. Although his shot wasn't finding the bottom of the net, Gordon was able to get himself to the line. However, it was his chase down block on an apparent Danny Green transition layup (check it out on NBA.com) that signaled tonight might be special.
After Jason Smith hit three consecutive jumpers to finish the first quarter strongly, the Hornets continued to play well throughout the second. Ryan Anderson, Davis and Gordon combined for 19 points and the good guys went into halftime with a 49-41 advantage.
At this point, I know what you're thinking. Home third quarter blues just around the corner, right?
Things did appear they were about to get interesting, in a bad way, but lo and behold, Robin Lopez decided to take his turn in the limelight. After a nice spin in the lane for a layup, he hit what I can best describe as some underhand, with side spin, lefty hook shot to put us back up 10, four minutes into the third quarter.
The Spurs did manage to chip away at our lead until it was just 5 at the start the fourth quarter, but as quick as lightening, Brian Roberts and Anderson hit back-to-back triples to push the lead back to 11. Thank goodness for perimeter shooting. As for almost the next four minutes, we only managed to add one Smith jumper to the scoring column. Not surprisingly, San Antonio took full advantage and our lead was whittled to 3 with well over seven minutes to go.
Enter the Commish, Part Deux. At this point, Monty wisely turned to our big gun and Gordon didn't disappoint. He quickly restored order and scored on three consecutive jumpers. Oh and they weren't of the average run of the mill variety either. The best one was a long sideline jumper where he created plenty of space by completely juking out the defender. After that, and with our all-star lineup of Vasquez-Gordon-Aminu-Davis-Anderson on the floor, the Hornets were not going to lose. Not tonight.
1. Anthony Davis. With Gordon's recent return, the Unibrow had largely gone missing. Thankfully, he turned things around and put up an excellent line of 17 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals and 1 block. His positioning was much better-leading to the 3 steals plus he had several timely offensive put-backs.
2. Greivis Vasquez. He's been on some kind of roll of late and it didn't end tonight: 14 points, 11 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals. It appears that he and Gordon are going to work very well together and I'm sure no one is happier about it than Greivis. Finally, he doesn't have to carry around the entire weight of offensive execution on his shoulders.
3. Hornets activity. For a team that struggles to create opposing turnovers, the Hornets forced 19 errors by the Spurs. In addition, 12 of them came via the steal. The havoc created never allowed San Antonio to seize control of the game.
The Really Good (What? You didn't really expect me to nitpick 3 negatives on the night!)
1. Al-Farouq Aminu. The stud is back: 4 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block. At times, it seemed Aminu was everywhere on the floor as he even ripped away several rebounds from Davis. In Monty's postgame presser, he stated that Aminu's 10 boards felt like 15 or even 20. No wonder he led the team with over 37 minutes of playing time. Regardless of whether Monty's doghouse did the trick, it's great to see November Aminu back in action.
2. Eric Gordon. Hard to put him #2 on this list but hey, he's expected to be one of our best players every game. Of course, it doesn't mean we're downplaying his contributions one iota. Gordon was unstoppable tonight. Wherever he wanted to go, he got there. Scary to fathom he should be even better once he gets his sea legs and that shooting efficiency improves.
3. Hornets defense. Where to begin? For starters, we held the NBA's 3rd highest scoring team to 88 points. For most of the night, the Spurs didn't dictate the pace of the game. Their ball movement and spacing were not very evident. Often times, they were hoisting shots more akin to hero ball than Popovich's I'm-going-to-breakdown-your defense-and-get-an-easy-look standard.
On Wednesday, the Hornets will host another potential playoff team in the Houston Rockets. However, as long as Eric Gordon steps onto the floor, we should have another decent chance to pick up a win. Currently, we're 3-1 in games he plays. The only negative is that we might be without Jason Smith as he appeared to re-injure his bad shoulder. Hopefully, it was merely some tweak and he'll be good to go. GEAUX HORNETS!