Posey to miss Chicago game with strained Achilles

Friday, January 29, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

There are few players in the NBA who average 5.6 points per game but are as valuable as James Posey has been for the Hornets (25-20) recently. In addition to his pair of game-winning baskets last week against Memphis and Minnesota, the 6-foot-8 veteran forward consistently sacrifices his body to draw charges. His big-game experience and timely three-point shooting have also come in handy for a New Orleans team that has won nine games in January alone by five points or less.

With Posey (strained right Achilles) ruled out for tonight’s game vs. Chicago (7 p.m.), it will mean the contributions of Peja Stojakovic, Julian Wright and Morris Peterson could become even more critical. Hornets coach Jeff Bower said at shootaround this morning that all three may see an uptick in playing time with Posey sidelined.

“We’ll give Peja a few more minutes,” Bower said. “We’ll use Julian a few more minutes and utilize Mo Pete a little bit. Out of those three players and the options they present, that will probably be the direction we go to fill the void.”

There is no timetable or expected return date for Posey.

“He will be out for an indefinite period of time,” Bower said. “His progress will determine how quickly he can come back. We don’t know his rate of healing.”

The Bulls (22-22) are wrapping up an impressive seven-game road trip tonight in NOLA. Chicago is 4-2 so far on the trip, winning the past four games against Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio and Oklahoma City.

“They’ve beaten a lot of very good teams on this trip,” Bower said. “They’ve beaten teams actually that have helped us (in the West playoff race).”

Hornets.com postgame: Bulls 108, Hornets 106 (OT)

For once, the discussion in the home locker room at the New Orleans Arena wasn’t about why the Hornets have been so effective in crunch time this season. After the Hornets couldn’t close the deal following a huge fourth-quarter comeback against the Bulls, New Orleans players rued their missed opportunity.

“We gave ourselves an opportunity to win, but we made a few mistakes at the end,” Chris Paul said. “We should’ve won that game.”

The sequence that the Hornets (25-21) may replay in their heads during a late flight to Memphis took place with 8.8 seconds remaining in regulation and New Orleans leading 102-100. David West tried to lead Paul with an inbound pass, but the ball sailed over Paul’s head. The three-time All-Star point guard hauled it in, but ran out of room, forcing him to save it back into the Bulls’ hands. Chicago converted a Luol Deng tip-in at the other end, tying the game.

Making the play even more regrettable, while saving the ball, Paul slammed into a TV cameraman stationed on the baseline, aggravating a twisted left knee that he initially sustained Wednesday at Golden State. Paul’s status for Saturday at Memphis was uncertain.

“I ran right into the cameraman,” Paul said. “I hit my knee right in the same spot. Hopefully it will get better by tomorrow. It happened real fast, and then I looked to see where the ball was going.”

Trailing by two points on the final possession of overtime, Darren Collison dribbled into the frontcourt but coughed up the ball as he tried to create an open shot.

“It’s tough,” said Collison, who sat quietly at his locker for several minutes contemplating the loss. “It’s real tough. You have to at least get a shot attempt (in that situation). To have a turnover is real tough. I take full responsibility for it.”

New Orleans overcame an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to put itself in position to win a third straight game.

“The thing that I’ll focus on is the effort in the fourth quarter to get back into the game,” Jeff Bower said. “They did a terrific job with that on a night when we weren’t real sharp for the first three quarters. We knew (the Bulls) were playing outstanding basketball, but we just came up a little short.”