Hornets 101 – Pacers 96
Shoulda seen it coming. I may as well have done a waltz with a black cat under a ladder while spilling salt. Behold the carnage I brought forth:
T-Murda - Troy Murphy hung 21 points and 14 rebounds on the Nets last night. Over the past 20 games, he’s averaged 16.5 points and 10.2 rebounds, while posting a ridiculous .611 eFG%. He’s sixth in the league year-to-date at eFG% at .584.
Troy managed only 6 points and 9 rebounds on 2-of-9 shooting, including 2-of-7 from beyond the arc. It marks the first time he’s recorded a double-single since December 29th against Chicago, and he left that game with an injury.
Don’t Tease – I mentioned this in the last recap, but I think we’re finally starting to see the Danny we were all hoping for this year. Over the last three games, he’s averaged 28 points while shooting 49% from the floor. His shot selection has been much better, as evidenced by his 11-for-23 from beyond the arc. More importantly, he’s been playing the most complete basketball we’ve seen since last season. This Danny is a difference maker. Hope he’s here to stay.
In a season full of disappointing performances for Danny, this was, in my opinion, his worst. Only a meaningless three with 0:02 left in the game spared him the ignominy of his first single-digit scoring outing since December, 2008. Only one of his 13 shots came from inside of 10 feet – he missed it -and none came at the rim. He only got two free throws and recorded no assists. Just an all-around flat performance by Danny, in a five-point game where even just a mediocre performance possibly could have made the difference.
Live by the Three - Through December 31st, the Pacers had shot under 32% from beyond the arc, which goes a long way towards explaining their 9-22 record at that point. In 2010, they’ve shot 39%, including 44% over the last five games.
The coup de grâce. It was as if they were trying to balance the scales. Indiana’s 6-for-29 shooting performance was a harsh reminder of how errant their marksmanship could be. The bad part is that most of the shots were pretty good looks. As spstevenson of Indy Cornrows noted, New Orleans opted to give the Pacers the three, and Indy just couldn’t capitalize. Danny, Troy, and Mike Dunleavy combined to go 4-for-18 from beyond the arc (and 8-for-30 overall). It’s hard not to look at this area as the key difference in the game.
Five (Three, Sire) Other Things
- Offensive performance on the Defensive Glass – The New Orleans Hornets scored every single point they has last night on second chance points. OK, that’s not true, but it sure felt that way. The Pacers were slaughtered on the boards, grabbing only 43% of the total rebounds available.
- The Joy of Roy - I’m going to go ahead and risk the jinx, because Roy Hibbert’s performance deserves praise. A career high 27 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 3 blocks is probably the main reason the Pacers were in this game. The biggest obstacle for Roy remains his fouling, but he’s reduced his fouling rate by 27% this season. More importantly, you can begin to see why both Bird and O’Brien targeted him in the 2008 draft. He is a smart, coachable kid with classic post skills, and he can potentially be a huge asset on an uptempo team. Everyone (Roy, Jim, and his teammates) will need how to use those skill properly, but coupling his 27 points on 19 shots last night with a more normal shooting performance will be good enough to beat a lot of teams. As a note, the average pace in his six 20-point games was 98, and in his seven double-doubles was just under 99. Playing fast and utilizing Hibbert are not mutually exclusive. In fact, as someone who grew up with the ABA, the Showtime Lakers, and Bird Celtics, I’ll tell you that doing both successfully can be something very special indeed.
- Wasted Opportunities -There are always moments in games where, as a fan, you think, “That’s gonna come back and bite us on the ass.” The Pacers had a few of those last night. Two came at the hands Solomon Jones, who mishandled two set ups at the rim. One came when Brandon Rush failed to finish on a beautiful drive, only to have the ball hang on the rim juuuuuust long enough to screw up the timing on Roy’s easy follow. Finally, Mike Dunleavy, an 88% FT shooter, missed three of his seven freebies. These little missed chances added up to one big wasted opportunity: a winnable game at home. Now, our fearless lads must travel to Miami, Orlando, and Detroit this week to try to take one they wouldn’t normally.
…And One More Thing
The Colts defeated the Baltimore Browns 20-3 last night to advance to the conference finals. Offense was OK, running game horrid, but the Defense was all kinds of nasty. Now they wait to see whether the Chargers or the Jets will be the next guest.
Die by the Three: By The Numbers
Yeah, he’s open, and he’s ready for the catch, but perhaps the Pacers would have been better off not passing to this guy so much for the threes.