In the first trip back to New Orleans for Dallas since the 2008 playoffs, the results were very reminiscent of the Hornets' five-game demolition of the Mavericks last spring.
With a huge second-half surge, New Orleans (38-22) won its sixth straight game. This was the most impressive victory of the streak - the first time during this stretch that the Hornets' opponent was well above .500.
After wins over Sacramento, Detroit, Milwaukee, New Jersey and Philadelphia - all relatively close games - the Hornets put the Mavericks away by the midpoint of the fourth quarter tonight. In a virtual replay of what took place during the Western Conference's first round last year:
The Hornets and Mavs vied through a tightly-contested opening 24 minutes, but New Orleans emerged as the superior team after intermission, outscoring Dallas 59-43 tonight. There were many times during the playoff series that the Hornets made the Mavs look like an old team, outhustling them and outworking them all over the floor. That happened again tonight, though only in the second half. I thought the first half we played their style of basketball, Byron Scott said of the Mavs. They looked like the younger, fresher basketball team and were getting up and down the floor. I wasnt real happy about that at halftime and let the guys know that we had to come out and be aggressive, and look to attack more on both ends of the floor.
Chris Paul was unstoppable. CP3 became the first player in NBA history to record 30 points and 10 assists in each of his first two career playoff games in 2008. Tonight, he took over the game in the second half and seemed to tally a basket or an assist nearly every time he had his hands of the ball. The 6-foot point guard finished with 27 points and 15 assists.
Dallas resorted to jump-shooting after it fell behind by a big margin and it just made matters worse. Like in the playoffs, the Mavericks tried to get back into the game tonight behind three-point shots, but to no avail. Dallas finished 5-for-21 from beyond the arc, including 2-for-14 there in the second half.
HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES
On effect this game may have on standings:
I told the guys that if we win the game we have a chance to be the third seed and if we lose this game that we may drop to the seventh, thats how close it is. We understood the ramifications to the outcome of this game. We knew we had to come out here and play well, especially in the second half. Bottom line, we want to keep winning, thats the goal.
On the game: In the first half, we werent aggressive enough. We didnt push the tempo enough. In the second half, I knew that was my job, and thats what I tried to do. In the first half, they started switching ball screens. I was passing, deferring to my teammates. Coach told me I just needed to be more aggressive. I attacked him (Dirk Nowitzki) a few times, and finally my jump shot started falling.
On the remaining games: Were definitely not peaking, but were playing a lot better than we were. Ever since I got my big man back, were 6-0, so Im glad to have (Tyson Chandler) back and were doing a good job right now.
On the game: After the first half, we felt like the pace of the game was too slow. Coach came in and told us he wanted us to pick the tempo up. We needed to get the ball down the floor; we really needed to wear them down.
On the remaining games: I just think were clicking pretty well at this point. We talked about having a run where we can put together consecutive wins. Were just feeling good about what were trying to do. I think this is a good time of the year to be doing that.