Home Optimal energy Hornets drown threesome blazers and win Halloween match

Hornets drown threesome blazers and win Halloween match

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The Portland Trail Blazers and Charlotte Hornets played a party game on Halloween. The Hornets dressed up as Marvel superheroes, shooting, swinging, and flying on the ground for four shifts. The Blazers dressed in the classic K-Mart Batman outfit: soft mask, flimsy elastic string, decent but ill-fitting shirt, the soft-bottomed pants just suck. While the Blazers had their gooey moments, the kids in the cool clothes prevailed 125-113.

If you missed the four-quarter recap, you can find it here. Here is the in-depth analysis of the game, along with its highs and lows.

Three for all

Both teams were taking three points like crazy, especially in the first half. Neither seemed inclined to miss. It was not complex. Any penetration attracted defenses engaged for aggressive aid. After that, 1-2 assists resulted in an open look for anyone who cared to prepare one.

After the starters warmed up the floor in the first, Anferthree Simons showed up for the Blazers, hitting several trebles in quick succession. He was only a Trail Blazer, however. All the Hornets did.

Overall, the teams shot 17-54 (Blazers) and 20-42 (Hornets) from a distance respectively, combining 96 attempts and 111 points from the arc.

Safe to say, allowing the opponent to shoot 48% of the arc isn’t part of Portland’s game plan.

V neck

If you want to see the difference between Portland’s offense this year and years past, besides the obvious focus on screen and roller, look where they set up plays and enter.

Under Terry Stotts, Portland played in a “T” shape, with the pillar extending from the edge to the top of the arc and the crossbar running along the baseline. The goal was to spread the defense far enough to get an open look at the ball carrier or a penetration for a corner three … all shots coming at the ends of the T-line. They were also playing on the diagonals ( Hello, CJ McCollum) but these attempts stemmed from the first T-attack.

Under Chauncey Billups, the Blazers start at diagonals with screens. The attack extending along a “V” shape with its bottom point below the rim. The objective of attacking along the diagonals is to open more passing lanes. They’ll also shoot corners and direct shots, but those attempts come from the initial V-offense.

Basically it’s a contrast between setting up three-point open shots (Stotts) and penetrating and passing lanes (Billups). We’ll have to wait a bit for the final results, but it’s interesting to see the differences manifest.

Insider trading

The Blazers did better to cover the arc in the second half of this game. The Hornets got a little happy at three, too often throwing each other from a distance. The Blazers pinched them when it mattered and the home runs were gone.

When this happened, Charlotte calmed down and tried a different tactic. Their guards, especially Ball, went inside. At this point, Portland’s lack of size and defensive sense began to show. Pull-ups and layups fell while triples wouldn’t.

The Blazers had some spectacular saves when their assist defenders arrived on the scene. Jusuf Nurkic, Larry Nance, Jr., and Nassir Little can create serious problems anytime on the pitch. But excessive pursuit makes them vulnerable. After the cavalry is engaged, no one recovers quickly enough and no one can turn quickly enough.

Charlotte took full advantage of how the match unfolded. When their layups were blocked, they switched to short jumpers. When the Blazers placed men in front of the jump shooters, the arc opened again. Everywhere the Blazers weren’t, the Hornets scored. In any given game, the Blazers weren’t out there.

Poor quality three-point coverage is problematic. but Portland’s inability to deflect sustained pressure inside is distressing. They are somewhat set up to do it and it doesn’t happen, despite some pretty decent efforts by their capable defenders.

The cumulative result was that the Blazers handed out buckets like Halloween candy. The more the evening wore on, the worse it was. It was less than optimal.

Fade in the fourth trimester

Although the score was 89-88, the Hornets after three, the Blazers were broke in the fourth quarter.

The rebound was the first red flag. Portland had maintained an advantage, both aggressiveness and numbers, in the opening 36 minutes. All of a sudden, Charlotte became the dominant glass offerings.

After that, the inside score and the transition ball were collected for the Hornets, as well as shots on goal. Then the three came for free and easily and it all fell apart.

The Blazers tried to keep pace with the sweaters and floats that seemed to come out of tired legs.

It was the first night of back-to-back, not the second. We’ll have to watch and see if Portland goes nine deep, with just one goalie coming off the bench, will affect them. It shouldn’t be happening so early in the season, but it’s hard to watch this second half and not think that something is happening in terms of energy.

Delicate identity

The Hornets played like a young team tonight. They had unlimited confidence and an almost naive energy. You saw what it looks like when the game is free and easy like this.

For much of the evening, the Blazers played the same, with the older dogs running with the puppies, not braking the dash, leaving them to tire.

According to the script, Portland was supposed to lock into the fourth, stopping the opponent’s silliness and teaching them what real basketball looks like. Instead, the reverse has happened. Not only did Charlotte maintain her energy, but she played smarter than Portland.

If the Blazers can’t kickstart the veteran change, they can’t afford to get drawn into the run-and-fun style in the first place. If you can’t stop them later, you need to stop the action sooner. It’s that simple. Except tonight it wasn’t, somehow.

Assorted treats

Despite the loss, the Blazers showed several positive signs individually.

Anfernee Simons is a power off the bench when making scoring a priority. It wasn’t just a microwave tonight, but a complete nuclear fusion. He played 4 threesomes in the first half in a 19-point, 6-9 shooting performance that would have knocked the house down had his team been able to continue with the win. When that blow falls, this guy is Big Time.

The Blazers also feature Little Time, as bench forward Nassir Little shows all the signs of his flourishing. He leads with defense … a quality prized in a young player. His helping job has been as effective as Larry Nance, Jr.’s tonight, and that means something. Little also shot 2-3 from a distance, scored 8 points and took 6 rebounds, 3 offensives. If we’re still talking like this in a month’s time, Blazers fans should start to get excited. Even now, dreaming of a Little, Nance / Robert Covington, Jusuf Nurkic in front of the frontcourt should perhaps conjure up tingling?

Speaking of Nance, Jr., he always finds his way. Sometimes on Lego Masters, they throw a movement challenge to the builders. They’ll be filming the builds halfway through and inevitably someone will have a Technic part hooked up to a motor, spinning to the side of the build, moving furiously but not yet really hooked up to anything significant. This is what Nance, Jr. looks like with the Blazers right now. If they can harness this motor – if its energy connects in time and space to the forwards and centers around it – this construct could be Well. It’s not happening yet, but fans should still appreciate the way their new striker is developing. He shot 4-5 in 18 minutes tonight with 8 points, 7 rebounds, a steal and a block.

If you want to talk about appreciation … check out CJ McCollum. If Damian Lillard is like the Incredible Hulk on offense, McCollum is James Bond: never edgy, always with the right tool in hand, smoothly outsmarting opposing defenses and appearing to do well. The late-game pressure to close a deficit spoiled everyone’s offense tonight. CJ went only 3-9 in the final frame. Even then, he connected on a pair of threes, however. In total, McCollum scored 25 with 8 assists. He’s playing the best offense of his career, and that’s saying a ton.

Damian Lillard is not so handsome, unfortunately. He doesn’t get deep hits in rhythm. He’s not attempting the same angles or distances that he pulled off last year. His shot looks great when he can take a few dribbles, sizing, settling in and releasing. The quick shots coming out of the flow of the offense just don’t look right. He went 5-20 against Charlotte, 2-14 from the arc, and it wasn’t about defensive pressure. He made a dozen assists.

Speaking of pressure, neither Lillard nor McCollum have been able to put enough on their counterparts. LaMelo Ball was 27-2 more than McCollum — shooting 50% from the field. Terry Rozier scored 14, the same as Dame. Each shot 4-9 from a distance.

A shot in the opposing backcourt more effective than Dame and CJ is not serious. When they shoot more efficiently AND outsmart the Portland guards, that’s a problem.

Norman Powell continues to find his niche, as does Nance, Jr. He was super aggressive in the first and third quarters, either trying out threes or directly cutting the Hornets’ defense when they looked away. In even periods, it was not on the ground or was not visible there. Powell finished the game shooting 6-15, 2-9 from a distance, for 14 points.

Following

Instant recap

The score of the box

The scary thing about the night is not just the loss, but the fact that the Blazers have to turn around and face the Philadelphia 76’ers tomorrow. Contest starts at 4:00 p.m. Pacific Rim. They’ll all have to play like saints to avoid the potential Halloween hangover.


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