Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 108, Thunder 90

Saturday, March 7, 2009
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

After an Oklahoma City second-half turnover tonight, Julian Wright grabbed the ball in the frontcourt, with only one Thunder defender between him and the rim. Seventeen thousand-plus fans in the New Orleans Arena probably expected Wright to challenge OKC’s Russell Westbrook by attempting to get on SportsCenter with a highlight-reel dunk. Instead, Wright dropped off a simple bounce pass to a cutting David West, who banked in a fundamentally sound layup.

Although Wright is still capable of producing highlights when he’s on the floor – he had three more slams tonight – his ability to play under control and slow down has helped him move into the rotation. Wright equaled his career-best with 20 points tonight and added seven rebounds and four assists, highlighting New Orleans’ seventh consecutive victory.

“I’m just trying to make the simple play,” Wright said. “I think sometimes when I make a lot of mistakes, it’s because I’m trying to make the right play, but I'm realizing that you can’t force things. You’ve got to take what the defense gives you. On that play, I just tried to do the easiest thing. Sometimes my athleticism gets the best of me. I’m trying to think the game out more and let the game slow down.”

New Orleans (39-22), which is on its second-longest winning streak of the Chris Paul era, didn’t take control of this game until the fourth quarter, outscoring OKC 32-18 after leading by only four through three periods. The Thunder (16-46) were without their top two scorers, Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, but had won two straight games without them (and three consecutive overall).

Overall, this was an outstanding game by the starters, including a 21-point, 13-assist, six-rebound, six-steal performance by Paul. Rasual Butler started extremely fast and finished with 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting.

Byron Scott

On the Game:
“The 2nd quarter was a bad quarter. Our 2nd unit did a bad job of defending. That is just something we cannot afford to do. We went on a real good run in the 4th quarter. Same old, same old with the 2nd unit right now. They just didn’t do a good job. But as a whole, we are playing better and rebounding the ball better.”
On Julian Wright:
“We have been trying to put him in a position where he can be successful and not get himself into trouble. He did a real good job of getting up and down the court and being active; because we know that is what he can do. I have been trying to put him in with veterans that can maximize his potential and calm him down when they need too. I knew he was going to be more comfortable and play well this game (after playing last game). “

Tyson Chandler
On seven game winning streak: “I definitely can get used to this, we are playing great basketball right now. We are playing as a team, we have got to take this on our road trip.”
On Julian Wright: “He did some excellent things out there tonight; he got off and ran the floor. He did some great things for us defensively, helped out on rebounding. That is all he has to do is bring energy for us.”

Julian Wright
On his performance: “I just have to be locked in. I just try to make hustle plays to help my teammates.”
On his block on Russell Westbrook: “He is a heck of an athlete. I would have to meet him at the rim if I swipe at the ball I would be a highlight. I just tried to get back it was a turnover, I just tried to eliminate fast break points.”