Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 98, 76ers 91

Monday, March 2, 2009
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Chris Paul’s jump shot hadn’t been falling lately, but leave it to the two-time All-Star to make the most critical perimeter basket of the game tonight. Paul’s killer trey with 1:10 remaining gave the Hornets a six-point lead and enabled New Orleans (37-22) to stave off a Philadelphia rally, to pick up its season-high fifth consecutive victory.

While Paul (16 points on 6-for-16 FGs, 12 assists), closed out the 76ers with his dagger bucket, New Orleans was in position to prevail due to another excellent outing by David West (30 points, 10 rebounds). Rasual Butler (16 points, 10 rebounds) and James Posey (16 points, 12 rebounds) added timely shooting and opportunistic work on the boards.

“Coach (Scott) talked about how everyone needed to step up,” West said of winning in Philly. “We needed a major effort from everyone.

"I think we’re starting to play well together. We’re starting to trust each other a little bit more. That’s only going to pay off even more down the road.”

“The last few games we really haven’t played our best basketball, but we keep finding ways to win,” Scott said. “Right now we have some confidence in ourselves that we can get the job done on both ends of the floor.”

The Hornets are now a season-high 15 games over .500. A little over a month ago, New Orleans had been 28-14, but a steady stream of major injuries helped lead to a poor stretch of basketball. At the moment the Hornets appear be in as good a position as they’ve been all season, considering the upcoming schedule includes seven home games in the next 11 contests, as well as only four matchups against above-.500 clubs during that same 11-game stretch.

New Orleans will have Tuesday completely off, then return to practice in NOLA on Wednesday, before hosting Dallas at 7 p.m. Thursday. That rematch of the 2008 Western Conference quarterfinals will be televised nationally by TNT.

The two-day break from game action may be welcomed by the starting unit, which again logged huge minutes tonight. Paul, West, Butler and Tyson Chandler (9 points, 9 rebounds) each played at least 37 minutes, with West and Paul combining to log 89. Scott essentially used seven players. Other than Posey off the bench, Sean Marks played 11 minutes, while Antonio Daniels and Julian Wright each made first-half cameos of less than four minutes.

HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES (courtesy Philadelphia 76ers)
David West

On winning five games in a row:
“We have been trying to be really aggressive, and put together complete games on both ends of the floor and it’s been working out for us. We got a little energized after the All-Star break, these stretches are going to get a little tougher for us but, above everything else we just wanted to like I said put together some complete games.”
On anything different he has been doing over the last five games:
“I have just been trying to stay aggressive, and go out and keep the initiative. I feel like if I play well it gives us a better chance to win games. My mindset has just been to stay really aggressive.”
On the bench being able to step up and hit some big shots:
“Well obviously we get opportunities to see the floor with Chris Paul penetrating and probing the defense. When we got guys hitting shots from the outside, and be able to get extra shot attempts on the glass. It is really going to help us out, and we know that when teams start sinking in it’s up to us on the perimeter, that if we don’t have the shot to make the extra pass and count on our teammates to knock the shot down."
On being able to make big stops when they needed to:
“Philadelphia is a dangerous team, they are young and athletic, and so our whole thing was to make sure to match their energy. Set the tone early, we knew they were going to make a run, but we were able to make some plays and hold them off at the end.

Rasual Butler
On the way they pulled it together at the end of the fourth quarter:
“We have great confidence in our defense so that we don’t have to rely on our offense to win games. The Sixers are a well coached team and we knew that they would make some baskets; we just didn’t want them to get a bunch of points in the paint. We wanted them to take contested jump shots, and get some rebounds so we could get up and down the court.
On if it helps to have reliable shooters:
“We got a lot of shooters. It’s something that really helps this offense out when we hit the open shot.”