Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 135, Warriors 131

Monday, March 8, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

At times tonight, this Western Conference matchup felt like one of those high school All-Star games where both sides are content to rack up the points and not get in each other’s way. Of course, many Golden State games appear that way – the Warriors are the NBA’s best offensive and worst defensive team (measured by points per game).

Either way, the Hornets will take a victory in any fashion they can get at this point. New Orleans (32-32) held off Golden State (17-46) late, to end its four-game losing streak and get back to the .500 mark. The Hornets cut a half-game off their deficit on eighth-place Portland, which now stands at 4 ½ games behind the Trail Blazers.

On a night when 266 points were scored, it was no surprise that the Hornets put up some gaudy statistics. For a rundown of several numbers, check the comments in this blog for postgame notes. Instead of rehashing those achievements, here are a few news items from the locker room:

• Peja Stojakovic suffered a right groin strain in the third quarter and did not return for precautionary purposes. He is listed as questionable for Wednesday's game in Oklahoma City. Jeff Bower said the initial indication was that it was not a serious injury. “We’ll know more about the extent of it tomorrow,” Bower said.

• Darren Collison came within one assist of tying Chris Paul’s franchise record of 21 assists in a single game. I asked Collison if he was making Paul nervous by threatening the all-time Hornets record. “Yeah,” a grinning Collison quickly responded, joking that “Chris told me to start taking more shots.”

• Marcus Thornton was relieved to see the Hornets pick up a much-needed victory after their season-longest, four-game losing streak. “We needed this win bad,” Thornton said. “I was telling (Collison), I couldn’t remember the last time we won.” It was actually 10 days ago, home vs. Orlando.

• I asked Thornton how much fun it was for him to play in such an up-tempo game. The Warriors led fast-break points 30-27. “I don’t know how much fun it was for the older fellas,” a smiling Thornton said of some of his veteran teammates. “But for Darren and I, it was fun. Getting up and down the floor, we excel in that type of game.”

• The Hornets’ 44-23 rebounding edge was led by 24 combined rebounds from David West and Emeka Okafor. The Warriors are difficult to defend because of their plethora of quick players, but they have a tough time on the other end with so many undersized rotation guys. “They were small,” West said of the Warriors. “The lineups they play aren’t traditional. In terms of size, they didn’t have the size to match up. The last three or four minutes we were hanging around the basket trying to make sure we got extra possessions.”

Bower updates CP3 injury status

Having missed the past 17 games since his Jan. 29 injury, Hornets three-time All-Star point guard Chris Paul still has not been cleared to run following the knee surgery he underwent in early February. New Orleans general manager/head coach Jeff Bower addressed a handful of questions from the local media this morning at shootaround, as the Hornets (31-32) prepared for its 7 p.m. home game vs. Golden State (17-45).

Rather than trying to provide an interpretation of Bower’s comments, here is the full Q&A on the current status of Paul’s injury and potential return to the court:

Q: What are the chances we will see Chris Paul return soon?
Bower: I don’t have a target date. His next step is to begin running. He’s not begun that process yet. We’ll know (more) when that transition (to running) starts to take place.

Q: If he begins running, hypothetically, in the next three days, how soon can he play after that?
Bower: That’s a step-by-step process, where the intensity will increase with each successful period. So it’s something that we have to take on a stage-by-stage basis.

Q: Is there a cut-off date where you would say “It’s not worth bringing him back this season?”
Bower: No. There is not. Our plan is for him to return, when he’s 100 percent healthy. That’s what he wants to do as well. That’s what we are working toward.

Q: Can you say that he’ll start running this week?
Bower: I can’t say that and know it as fact. We’re hopeful. But I don’t know that yet.

In other news from this morning, Marcus Thornton (bruised upper back) said he expects to play tonight against the Warriors. Thornton, who has taken several nasty spills to the hardwood in recent weeks, was advised by Hornets teammates that he needs to do a better job of “picking his spots” in being reckless with his body. Thornton slammed the back of his head and his upper back against the floor in the San Antonio game.
“They said if I want to have a long career in this league, I might have to tone it down,” said Thornton, who still had some stiffness in his neck and back this morning. “But that’s how I play. I’m just happy it wasn’t as bad as it looked.”