Officially, it was game No. 47 on the Hornets' schedule. On the surface, just another contest in early February. But make no mistake, New Orleans players and coaches badly wanted this victory. They wanted to prove that - at least short-term - they can survive without Chris Paul. They needed it to end what had become a season-long, four-game losing streak. They also hoped to build some confidence after two straight outcomes that could've discouraged even the most upbeat Hornets.
New Orleans (29-18) accomplished all of those things with a huge fourth quarter to come from behind and beat Toronto (19-33). The Hornets racked up eight three-pointers in the final stanza, highlighting a 37-23 edge in that period.
The biggest thing was just getting a win, coach Byron Scott said minutes after the victory. Everyone in the locker room probably feels a lot better about themselves right now. Our guys are always pretty chipper at practice, talking and laughing. But the last couple (practices) its been about as quiet as it can get. This basically just gives you a little relief for 36 to 48 hours, then youre right back on the court.
The Hornets host Minnesota at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Other news from tonight:
Starting with the positive, the Hornets tied a team record by making 15 treys, on 32 attempts. Rasual Butler (17 points) drilled three trifectas in the fourth quarter; Peja Stojakovic (28 points) and James Posey (17 points) each had two. Brown (9 points) added another.
It was great to see Posey (6-for-11 FGs) break out of his recent shooting woes. Scott said he felt empathy for Posey, but he told reporters that Posey contributes in so many other ways, and he knew the subs offensive problems were only temporary. The last thing I worried about with James is making shots, Scott said. He does so many things out there. He defends multiple positions, rebounds, takes charges. Most of the time hes taking on the other teams best offensive player. I knew sooner or later hed start knocking (shots) down when we really needed it.
Brown was on the floor at point guard during crunch time and turned out to be huge on this night, scoring seven of his points in the fourth quarter. Scott suggested starter Antonio Daniels may have been fatigued after playing 29 minutes, but Brown responded with perhaps his most valuable contribution of 2008-09.
Ryan Bowen made his first start of the season, but fouls limited him to 17 minutes. In typical Bowen fashion, he commented after the game that the most exciting part of getting to start was the reaction of his three children, ages 3 through 7. I was excited to be out there, and I was really excited for my kids, he said. That was great for them to see me get introduced (in the starting five), and them being proud. I cant wait to see them. Theyre going to be excited about that. Later, one of the reporters mentioned to Bowen that the forward had fired an airball on his first jumper, but Bowen good-naturedly pretended that he didnt remember the play.
With Bowen starting, Hilton Armstrong and Melvin Ely ended up getting DNPs after being part of the rotation earlier this week. Then, after Julian Wright made three turnovers in 3:53 of first-half action, he remained on the bench after intermission. Im not so much into sending messages as I am trying to win games, Scott said, referring to why Armstrong and Ely sat tonight. Im going to put the guys out there who give us the best opportunity to do that.
HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES
ON GAME: We did a good job of trusting. From last game to this game we did a lot better job. Last couple of practices we did a lot of work on the defensive end and offensive end as well and I think it showed.
ON NEXT GAME: We are going to come in tomorrow and get some work done. Study some Minnesota stuff and try to get a win
.two in a row. This (winning) gives us relief for 36 to 48 hours then your right back on the court.
ON THE GAME: I was just proud of our defense. We got into position; we got good looks and were able to knock it down. That was the key, the fourth quarter. CPs out. Weve got to have better ball movement and thats what we did particularly in the fourth quarter.
We got our energy from the defensive end. We were able to get some long rebounds. When you move the ball you get good looks. Nobodys going to feel sorry about us because weve got a couple of hurt guys. We has to stop the losing streak. We did tonight and weve got Minnesota on Sunday."
ON THE GAME: Like I always say, some days are better than others and for me its just keep working and keep taking shots with confidence. Im just happy we got a win. The only things I continue to do is just keep getting shots up at practice and keep shooting the ball with confidence.
Most importantly we got a win. Weve got guys that can shoot the ball and we were able to knock down some shots tonight."
Hornets head coach Byron Scott announced at shootaround that Ryan Bowen will be inserted into the starting lineup tonight vs. Toronto (7 p.m., New Orleans Arena). Bowen will be listed as the power forward, with David West moving to center. Hilton Armstrong, whos started at the 5 recently, will come off the bench.
Its no secret that Im not real happy the last week or so with the way that (Melvin Ely) has played, or the way Hiltons played, Scott said referring to the Hornets whove been receiving most of the minutes at center with Tyson Chandler (ankle) sidelined. So were going in a different direction.
The one thing we know about (Bowen) is that hes always going to play hard, Scott continued. Even if hes bent over and looks like hes about to pass out, when the ball goes (to the other end of the floor), hes gone (running). Thats the type of effort we need.
Other notes from Scotts media availability at shootaround:
One of the most obvious differences between 2007-08 and this season has been the current injuries, resulting in frequent lineup shuffles and a lack of continuity. Its a challenge, because youre trying to find the right combinations that can work for you, Scott said. We didnt have the injury problem last year. Last year all of the stars kind of aligned perfectly for us. If we did have injuries, they werent for extended periods of time. (And we didnt) have three or four guys out at the same time.
Asked who would be the backup center tonight behind West, Scott said he will wait until game time to decide. I dont know, said a grinning Scott, who jokingly added, David may play all 48 (minutes). Or at least I think he was joking.
Nothing new on the injury front related to Chris Paul (strained right groin), Chandler or Morris Peterson (sprained foot). I know CP hes in the (trainers room) right now to see if he can treatment to see if he can (play) tonight, but thats not going to happen, Scott said. Scott added that he doubts Peterson will return before the All-Star break.