What a great start to a road trip some are calling the toughest trek for the Hornets in several years. This was a playoff-type atmosphere in the Rose Garden, but New Orleans (20-9) delivered countless crowd-silencing plays with the game hanging in the balance, outscoring Portland (20-13) by a 31-16 margin in the fourth quarter.
There was plenty to discuss after this one, so lets get right to it, in bullet form:
Pretty sure Tyson Chandler and Joel Przybilla werent on each others Christmas card list last week it seems like every time these guys are together on the court, some kind of scuffle ensues. This time Przybilla took exception to Chandler swatting his hand away and pushed Chandler, which led to Chandler responding with a forearm to Przybillas upper body. The two-man officiating crew (one ref was injured in pregame) ruled it a flagrant foul-type 2 on Chandler and ejected him from the game. Its possible Chandler could be suspended for Saturdays game at Denver, but well have to wait for a ruling after the league reviews tape of the incident.
With Chandler gone, backup Hilton Armstrong responded with his best game of the season. An aggressive Armstrong tallied 12 points on 6-for-6 shooting, with four dunks. He scored eight points in the fourth quarter. Hilton came in and played some big minutes, credited David West. We know his biggest adversary is his (lack of) confidence. As long as he plays strong, he can be big for us.
Speaking of West, he was huge in the initial three quarters, hitting jumper after jumper en route to 21 points. He totaled 25. This was an important game for us, West said. Its going to be a tough road swing. We wanted to make sure we got off to a good start.
James Posey came through with more timely buckets, something hes done all season. When the offense started sputtering in the third quarter, he canned two straight treys that helped the Hornets fight back into it. One of the best stats from tonight: New Orleans was plus-25 with Posey on the court.
Chris Paul finished off the Trail Blazers in the fourth quarter. After a relatively quiet offensive game in which he struggled to connect on his outside shots, he took over with nine points in the final period. Overall, he finished with 17 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds after his sluggish start.
The Blazers didnt have Brandon Roy again. Portland beat Boston earlier this week without their All-Star guard, but the hosts offense looked confused at times in this one. Portland finished at 39.7 percent from the field.
For the first time in crunch minutes, Byron Scott paired Paul with Antonio Daniels in the backcourt. This alignment frees up CP to be more attack-minded by relieving him of some of the playmaking and ballhandling duties.