Although ESPN predicted a New Orleans victory over the LA Clippers last night, I must admit that I was not extremely confident. The first two games of the Jeff Bower era did not look much different then the last few games of the Byron Scott era.
In last night's victory over the Clippers, the Hornets looked like a completely different team. They played with energy, effort, and actually looked like a professional basketball team.
This, in spite the fact that they are playing without all-star point guard Chris Paul. Last night's game made clear quite a few interesting things. In this article I discuss the top five things illuminated from the play this game
1. The LA Clippers are not a very good team .
To make things crystal clear, the Hornets beat a poor team last night. There is just no doubt about it. This should be intuitively obvious to the most casual basketball observer.
I was going to write that the Clippers looked like a high school team last night. However, that would be an insult to high school players.
At least high-schoolers work the ball around and attempt to play individual and team defense. These Clippers looked like some ballers who got together on the playground for a pickup game.
Baron Davis passed up open teammates to force shots. His play made me grateful that Mr. Davis no longer wears a Hornets uniform.
2. The Hornets rookie players have real potential.
The Hornets would not have won this game without the play of Marcus Thornton and Darren Collison.
In 23 minutes of playing time, Collison scored 12 points and had six assists versus only two turnovers. He looked very cool under pressure. If Collison keeps developing, at the least he will be a long-term reliable backup guard.
Marcus Thornton managed 12 points and no turnovers in less than half a game. He looked very strong on the inside and may provide the slashing ability that the Hornets have long needed.
As he showed during his brief career at LSU, Thornton has the ability to light it up from the outside once he gets started. Thornton could be another JR Smith-type player, with a more complete game and without the baggage.
3. The Hornets can play defense .
Granted, you have to refer back to item one in this list—this was the Clippers. However, the Hornets did exert some real energy on defense and actually were covering outside shooters.
I also noticed good defensive rotation. It was claimed that the Byron Scott defense was overly complicated. I am not sure if Bower has simplified things or if the Hornets are just trying more. Maybe it is a little of both.
4. The Hornets can have good ball movement.
Something that I noticed last night was some good crisp passing by someone in a Hornets uniform with a number other than "3" on his back.
There were a number of skip passes to the open man and some inside-outside movement. On one three-point attempt, I counted six passes before the Hornets found the open man. Devin Brown knocked down the shot.
Have the Hornets been relying on Chris Paul too much?
5. The Hornets can play with energy.
Since the performance slump late last season, the Hornets have been playing with neither energy nor effort. Against the Clippers, the increase in overall effort and energy was noticeable.
The Hornets came up with the loose balls and killed the Clippers on the boards, out rebounding their opponent 51-36. As this writer has written in past article, rebounding is all about energy and effort, along with some good technique.
The came with the Clippers revealed some things that the Hornets under Jeff Bower and lead assistant Tim Floyd can be. The next four days with games against Phoenix, Atlanta, and Miami may give a glimpse at what they will be.