Tale of the Tape: Hornets Horn Set


Mar 20, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Hornets power forward Anthony Davis (23) rebounds over Boston Celtics center Kevin Garnett (5) during the first quarter of a game at the New Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Tale of the Tape has returned just in time for the Boston Celtics playoff push. If you’ve followed Hardwood Houdini for a while, you already know about this segment. But for those of you who don’t know, Tale of the Tape is where we take a previous play ran by–or against–Boston and break it down to show you how it works. This week, we’ll be doing a horn set run by the New Orleans Hornets.

A horns set is when you have two players on each elbow–right and left. Its a very versatile set that a majority of teams in the NBA run. You can pinch the post through these sets, run players off of various screens, or have the players who are on the horns perform various screening action away from the elbow. Below is the start of the horns set that the Hornets ran. This is how the set starts off:

The basic structure of a horns set, again, will have two players in the high post on each block. The ball handler will be at the top of the arch and there are usually two other players stretched out into the corners for proper floor balance and spacing.

In this specific set, the ball will be entered to Anthony Davis. The post-entry pass will be delivered by Greives Vasquez and he’ll pinch the post and cut through the middle of the lane. What I mean by pinch the post is run as close to Davis as he can without touching him and using him as what is considered a post-screen. Davis will protect the ball while Vasquez is cutting in case his man, Avery Bradley in this case, decides to swipe at the ball.

If Bradley does decide to swipe, then Vasquez will be free at the rim and Davis can pass it to him from the elbow. Instead, Bradley sticks with Vasquez and follows him through the lane. Vasquez then sets a cross-screen for Eric Gordon coming from the corner. A cross-screen is a screen that’s set along the baseline or in the paint to allow the receiver of the screen passage into the lane without any contest. You can see these same principles used in your every day flex offense.

Here’s where Vasquez sets the screen for Gordon:

As you can see, Davis has faced up toward the hoop and is now in triple threat position. He can either pass, shoot, or put the ball on the floor from this spot. It isn’t likely he’s going to shoot so Bass should give him a bit more room here. Davis will eventually pass the ball to the cutting Gordon under the rim after he receives the screen from Vasquez. This gives him a wide open look under the rim that no coach ever wants to see.  Here’s what the play looked like at the end:

This was clear miscommunication by the Boston Celtics in this case. Courtney Lee fails to get around the Vasquez screen here and instead of Lee and Bradley switching assignments, they don’t communicate and are both stuck on one player. Lee is trying to get around the screen and Bradley is trying to stick with his man.

Another option would be for Paul Pierce to help off of the corner man–Al Forouq-Aminu in this case. Aminu isn’t a very good shooter and even though its a corner three attempt–the most efficient shot in basketball–I think you can risk him taking it rather than allowing guaranteed points under the rim.

The easier option, though, would’ve been for Lee and Bradley to just switch covers and save an easy two points. The Hornets aren’t a very good offensive team, so when you force them to reset late in the clock you’ll likely get out of the possession unscathed. You can watch the play in real time here:

The more creative the set the more effective. The proper use of personnel on the floor with trump great defense every time. That’s what we saw here with this Hornets set. Though, the defense wasn’t necessarily great, the Hornets used their pieces in the proper way and it resulted in a quick score for them.