Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 99, Nets 96

Sunday, March 1, 2009
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Although it wasn't nearly as drastic of a late-game turnaround this time, the script for the Hornets tonight was eerily similar to Friday’s victory over Milwaukee: Build a double-digit second-half lead. Watch the opponent suddenly get hot from the perimeter, drilling repeated treys. Find a way in the final minute to do just enough to prevail.

New Orleans (36-22) picked up its fourth consecutive victory, including three straight wins that weren't decided until the final possession of the game.

After the New Orleans offense sputtered in the fourth quarter – other than David West’s 14 points, no one else scored for the Hornets until the last two minutes – it looked bleak, but the visitors made a handful of huge plays to outlast New Jersey (26-33).

Down 94-90, Rasual Butler canned a huge three-pointer with about 1:15 left. Chris Paul then put New Orleans in front 95-94 with a difficult 20-foot jumper at 0:40. Paul came up with a pivotal steal on the next Nets possession with 37 seconds left; after the Hornets missed a shot, Tyson Chandler delivered yet another momentous late-game play on the boards, by tapping the ball back out to Peja Stojakovic. Butler and James Posey helped secure the victory with two free throws apiece in the final 9.6 seconds.

“When it came down to it, we made the plays we needed and got some stops on the (defensive) end,” said West, whose monster performance included totals of 32 points and 11 rebounds.

New Orleans posted its second straight road victory despite subpar shooting games from Paul (6-for-18), Stojakovic (3-for-11) and Posey (2-for-8). As a team, the Hornets shot only 40 percent from the field and 29 percent from three-point range.

• Paul played the entire second half, meaning Antonio Daniels only logged six minutes of action.

• Speaking of sparingly-used reserves, Posey (31 minutes) was the only sub to play double-digit minutes. Scott used Sean Marks for 10 minutes and Devin Brown for four. Julian Wright, who appeared in the first half of the previous two games, did not play tonight.

• Butler continues to be superb, this time tallying 22 points, including 3-for-6 on treys. This was the fifth time in the last seven games that the La Salle product has delivered 15 or more points.

Byron Scott

On the game:
“We did a really good job in the last minute on both ends of the floor. We hit some really big shots, made key free throws and the Chris Paul steal at the end. We did a really good job on the out of bound plays and did not let the Nets have any good looks at the basket. Our fast break tonight was non-existent. We got to the free throw line a ton of times, which is good because we were aggressive. We have to have a balance. We have to be a little tougher defensively and buckle down a little bit better when we have to and then execute a little bit better on offense.”

David West
(On the Hustle They Showed Tonight)
“We just talked about trying to get this game here in New Jersey, we know they have been playing well and we are playing for a playoff spot. Therefore, we came out very aggressive, and I thought we were able to get some second opportunities on the offensive glass.”
(On The Nets)
“We know that they have been playing really tough here, fighting for a playoff spot. I knew we were going to be in for a battle, but we were determined to come in here…we knew that if we had a close lead we would have a shot. Even though we were struggling with the pick and roll we were able to get some stops late and really convert those on our end.”

Tyson Chandler
(On How He Initially Hurt His Toe)
“My first year here with (the Hornets) it was in practice and I ended up having surgery in the offseason after playing though the season with it. It’s been fine since the surgery and hasn’t really bothered me.”

Chris Paul
(On How They Stayed Composed When the Nets Made a Run)
“We feel like we are just one of those teams that never gets rattled. They hit a lot of big shots. We were up for most of the game but they just went on a crazy run and we just knew that at the right time we would make a shot.”