Despite a 22-12 record, no one, including the players and coaches, is entirely content with the Hornets' current level of play. However, one thing they've done well over the past couple months has been defeating sub-.500 teams. That trend ended in disappointing fashion tonight, with New York coming into the Hive and posting a rare road victory. The Knicks had gone winless on their four-game trip, with defeats in Oklahoma City, Dallas and Houston.
New Orleans dropped to 12-3 against teams that presently have losing records (for comparison's sake, the Celtics have four such losses; Lakers have two; Cavs only have one). The Hornets hadn't been beaten by an under-.500 opponent since Nov. 19, a home defeat to Sacramento.
"(New York) played 48 minutes tonight and we played about 20," said Hornets coach Byron Scott, in typically blunt fashion. "That's the bottom line. We really didn't come ready to play."
New Orleans didn't head into its challenging three-game road trip in encouraging fashion. The Hornets travel to Dallas, Cleveland and Detroit over the next five days, sporting a 10-9 record against clubs with winning marks.
"We've got a very tough trip," Scott assessed. "Any time you play against those teams in their buildings, it's going to be difficult."
Scott referenced both of the earlier losses to losing clubs (Charlotte and Sacramento) in his postgame Q&A, saying that "great teams don't do that. I don't consider ourselves to be a great team right now. We've got a good team."
"We've got to understand that all of this is what gets you prepared for the playoffs," said Chris Paul, who posted 23 points, five rebounds and seven assists. "You can't just show up for the playoffs and say, 'OK, we're going to start playing hard now.' We've got to build that now.
"I think a lot of it is mental and how you approach the game. I think we've got to get a little bit more of that killer (instinct)."
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