Spurs Thrive at Home, Beat Hornets Again to Tie Series
First and foremost, don’t bring any referee complaints into this one. We got outperformed in every possible manner. Rebounding? Check. Tim Duncan very nearly outrebounded our starters by himself. Turnovers? Check. Chris Paul forced and forced and forced (uncharacteristically). Aggressiveness? Check. The Spurs went to the line twice as much as the Hornets, and though Duncan got numerous touch fouls, the point is he got touch fouls going towards the hoop. Shooting? Of course a check.
Then there’s the one thing we have to change back in New Orleans: don’t bring the double on Duncan until he puts the ball on the floor. Timmah’s a terrific passer from the paint, and given the opportunity, he will pick you apart. It’s far easier to pass while holding the ball as opposed to passing while dribbling. Throw in the fact that Duncan usually goes into this weird little bendy thing with his head projecting far ahead of his body whilst driving, and it just makes it even more obvious that he needs to start dribbling.
Why was our defense so bad? Reason #1: defensive switches. I counted at least seven occasions where Chris Paul, Mo-Pete or General Pargo were walled off by a screener, the screener’s defender took the original dribbler, and another Hornet rotated to guard the screener himself. This left CP3, MP, JP, whoever it was floating around guarding nobody. Byron Scott seems highly wary of the mismatches produced by the screen game, but this strategy is just ridiculous. As long as the offense reorients itself, and kicks two shooters outside before the defender realizes where his new assignment is, there’s going to be a wide open jump shot every time. The best option would be to go over screens as much as possible and let the help defense come to the rescue. TC and DX are underrated as far as the rotation D they provide. We can sit here and say "oh, they won’t shoot like that again," but what if it happens again? The Hornets can’t afford to lose the next game, fluke or not, so they need to guard both the jump shot and the drive.
Our defense also suffered due to our closeouts on jumpshots. Were they lacking? No. In fact, they were probably just as solid as the closeouts we made in Games 1 through 3. The problem was who was closing out, and not how or how often. Tyson Chandler and David West were forced to contest jumpers in the corner on too many instances- a couple of times, they already had box out position before being forced to vacate the area. The stat sheet will say the Hornets got crushed on the D-glass (37-26), but it wasn’t because of a lack of effort as in Game 3. With DX and TC unable to get rebounds, and Peja stuck at the three point line (where all the cool kids were hanging out tonight), who’s getting the rebound? Chris Paul? The General? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
[top image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/67225156@N00/]