Stifling fourth-quarter defense and another triple-double from Chris Paul combined to give the Hornets a solid start to their difficult three-game road trip.
New Orleans (23-12) and Dallas (22-16) were deadlocked at 79 through three quarters, but the Hornets limited the Mavericks to just 18 points in the final stanza. That performance was a big upgrade from Monday, when they allowed a 32-point fourth period by the Knicks in a disappointing home defeat.
Coming off that bad loss against the Knicks, this was a good win for us, assessed Paul, who piled up 33 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists and seven steals. It speaks volumes of how we bounce back from that Knicks game. Everyone should keep the tape of this game to see how special this team can be.
Lets jump into a few other noteworthy developments from tonights road-trip opener. The Hornets are at Cleveland on Friday (ESPN, 7 p.m.) and Detroit on Saturday (Cox Sports TV, 6:30):
One of the better aspects of this game from a Hornets perspective was the shooting of Peja Stojakovic. Hornets TV analyst Gil McGregor said Peja looked more relaxed and comfortable than he had during his recent slump. Stojakovic started quickly and went 7-for-14 from the floor, totaling 16 points.
Devin Brown made his most valuable contribution of the season, a 12-point performance. He had missed 17 consecutive three-pointers going into this one, but canned his first two treys. Brown netted 12 points, the most hes scored in a victory since Nov. 21 at Oklahoma City.
Byron Scott altered his substitutions in the first half, at least partly to try to address the teams recent second-quarter problems (the Hornets have been outscored in that period in 14 of the last 15 games). He took a couple starters out a bit earlier than usual in the first quarter, but made sure one or two of them were on the floor for the bulk of the second quarter, instead of having five reserves together.
One easy-to-overlook stat from this game that was crucial to New Orleans success: only seven turnovers. Combine that with 49 percent shooting from the field, and this was one of the teams most efficient offensive games of the season.
Finally, we dont have to talk about streaks against Dallas anymore. Since playoff victories dont count in this stat, tonight's win "officially" ended the Hornets lengthy drought of victories on the road in Big D. If anything, New Orleans now has the upper hand in what was once a very frustrating head-to-head matchup. Including the postseason, the Hornets are 7-3 against the Mavs since the outset of 2007-08.
HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES
(First half tonight a lot of air was between shooters and defenders. In the second half that air was gone
) Thats what we talked about. We gave them way too much respect. I thought we came out a little soft defensively. I wanted us to be more aggressive just like we are in practice. And like you said, in the second we had the ability to do that. In the first half we also made about five or six mental mistakes and we were only down by 5 points [at half]. So that was the message at half time lets just be more aggressive, get on these guys (Dallas) a little bit more, take away that air space and be in a help position so that we can do a good job and I thought we did a much better job in the second half."
(The latter part of the second quarter kind of set the tone and then you carried that over
) I thought the first three minutes [of the 2nd half] kind of set the tone. We came out boom, boom, boom, we got a quick 5 points, we tied the game up, then we took the lead and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the game. Again, we kind of reiterated the fact that on the defensive end we had to stay aggressive and not give them so much air space and I thought C.P. (Paul) did a great job on Jason Terry in the second half. Everybody just pitched in Peja (Stojakovic) got his shot going a little bit, Tyson (Chandler) did a great job on the glass and, again, it was a whole team effort. I thought Devin was fantastic off the bench for us.
On the teams 4th quarter play:
We did what we needed to do. It was 79-79 with a few minutes to go and it was going to come down to whoever was able to string some stops together and we were able to do that. I thought that it was just the way that game goes. You are not going to shut everybody down because Dallas has got a lot of talent offensively and in the past we have struggled with containing (Jason) Terry, but that fourth quarter came down and we were able to get some stops.
Was that Chris Paul at his best:
Ya, you know we needed a big game from him and when we go out on these road trips we like to get the first one and that is the way you can really start a road trip is by winning that first game and we knew we were going to need a great effort to come in here and get a win."
On the 4th quarter defense:
We were just very active. We were able to get some steals and get some easy buckets and it was just one of those things were everybody was focusing in and we got some stops. I think a lot of it was steals during that time and we just had to have active hands and be aggressive. We were sort of in scramble mode a little bit and we changed defenses a little bit and we just had active hands and that led to steals and then easy buckets for us.
On the play of Chris Paul:
That is just every night for him. He played really well and we needed it.