Hornets.com postgame: Thunder 103, Hornets 99

Wednesday, February 3, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

When New Orleans was winning close game after close game in recent weeks, logic dictated that there was no way it could continue to come up on the plus side of nail-biters. Lately, it seems like the odds are starting to catch up with the Hornets.

For the third time in the last four games, New Orleans (26-23) had a chance to prevail in the final minutes but ultimately couldn’t dig out of a double-figure hole. Without a doubt, this was one of the more damaging losses for the Hornets in the extraordinarily congested West playoff race. New Orleans had a chance to grab eighth place, at least for the moment, while clinching the season series vs. Oklahoma City (28-21). Instead, the Hornets fell two games behind the Thunder and lost a third straight home game for the first time all season.

More on the defeat, dropping NOLA to 16-7 at home:

• Marcus Thornton was his usual aggressive self, racking up 22 points before leaving the game with a bruised tailbone on a hard spill to the floor. Fortunately, the team is listing him as day-to-day. Thornton showed his fearlessness by coming back even after the play in which he was injured and driving hard to the basket again. Eventually the pain caused him to leave the court. Thornton laughed when I told him that if I were coaching, I would’ve pretended not to see him limping, so that Thornton would stay in the game.

• New Orleans nearly rallied in the fourth quarter with a unit that did not include second-leading scorer David West on the floor. “In David’s case, I’m sure he’ll understand,” Jeff Bower said, when asked whether he was concerned about the two-time All-Star player’s reaction. “I felt we had to stay with the guys we had on the floor that were actively involved in the game. I would’ve gone back to him, but I felt he had sat so long that I wasn’t sure that was the thing to do.”

“That’s just the way the game was going,” said West, who was taken out after picking up his fourth foul in the third quarter, with NOLA trailing 79-68. The Hornets went on a 16-4 run over the next 5 ½ minutes.

For more on the game, click on NEWS/Post-Game Quotes.



Paul to undergo surgery Thursday on left knee


Within the past half hour, Jeff Bower told the New Orleans media that three-time All-Star point guard Chris Paul will undergo surgery on his left knee tomorrow in Pensacola, Fla. The procedure will be performed by the world-renowned Dr. James Andrews.

“The timetable (for Paul’s return) will be determined following surgery,” Bower said. “We are anticipating a very successful process and are looking forward to his rehab, recovery and return to action at some point later on. We won’t speculate on (the length of Paul’s absence from the lineup).”

Paul is scheduled to make his initial post-surgery comments to New Orleans reporters on Friday, the day the Hornets will host Philadelphia.

•••

Sure, there are still 34 games and more than two months remaining in the regular season, but tonight’s matchup vs. Oklahoma City has a big-game feel. The Hornets (26-22) trail the eighth-place Thunder (27-21) by only one game in the standings and would wrap up the head-to-head series against OKC with a home victory.

“Right now, we need to win,” said Darren Collison, who will be making his 11th start of the season as Paul’s replacement. “Regardless of whether I’m a rookie or not, we need to win... We need this win for this group so badly.”

Oklahoma City is playing the second game of a back-to-back set, after beating Atlanta on Tuesday.