Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 109, Wizards 98

Wednesday, March 11, 2009
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

It took a little while, but New Orleans (40-23) eventually shook off upset-minded Washington tonight, behind Chris Paul's triple-double and some clutch shooting from Rasual Butler.

The Eastern Conference-worst Wizards took a lead of as many as 12 points in the first half and were up 46-45 at halftime, but the Hornets dominated the third quarter, 40-22. Paul began drilling shots from all over the Verizon Center, en route to finishing with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists. Butler knocked down six three-pointers among his 21 points.

"We definitely needed a bounceback game after the loss in Atlanta," said Devin Brown, who along with Ryan Bowen returned to the rotation, in a lineup change by Byron Scott. "Coach was very upset, because we wanted to get all four of these games (on the road trip).

"There were a lot of cuss words (at halftime tonight). It was a lot (of discussion) about what we want our season to be. Do we want to struggle against these (below .500) teams, or do we want to step on their throats?"

The Hornets accomplished the latter by playing more aggressively on defense, creating better opportunities at the other end. Along with the team's starting backcourt, James Posey contributed a valuable offensive performance with 15 points and six assists.

Scott's bench shakeup yielded encouraging results, with New Orleans' reserves outscoring Washington's by a 30-18 margin. Scott said before the game that he's hoping to see the subs play a more aggressive style of play than what they've shown recently, partly because the lack of scoring ability from the bench means they need to find other ways to generate points.

Sean Marks did not play tonight due to illness, which also elevated Hilton Armstrong into a larger role. Armstrong had two points in nine minutes.

HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES (courtesy Washington Wizards)
Byron Scott

On tonight’s game:
“We did not start the game the way I would have liked to start the game. We came out very soft and tentative on the defensive end of the floor. We allowed the Wizards to catch the ball wherever they wanted to catch it. I talked to the team about this at halftime and in the third quarter we came out very aggressive on the defensive end and got eight deflections.”
On Chris Paul:
“He is great. What else is there to say? He took over on the offensive end and was a little more aggressive when it came to looking for his own shot.”
On the defensive effort:
“It was all about the defensive effort, which is how we were able to take control of the game. In the third quarter we came back and played extremely hard on the defensive and we played with a strong sense of purpose.”

Chris Paul
On the game:
“We got off to a slow start but we played a little bit better when we needed to. This team is dangerous because they have nothing to lose right now and they are really talented. They have a lot of guys who can handle the ball and we started defending at the right time.”
On the offense:
“We are at our best when we get out in transition. We force teams into tough shots and they miss, so then we fast break and pick-and-roll. Tyson (Chandler) and David West makes shots and that’s how we got some separation.”

Antonio Daniels
On playing against his former team:
“Tonight it was a little different because I still keep in contact with a lot of those guys. However, I have to put my individual feelings aside and worry about the bigger picture.”
On Chris Paul:
“He is a great player on the floor, but what is more impressive to me is that he is a better person off the floor. He has a big time competitive edge. He’s feisty, fiery and the guys feed off of that big time.”

David West
On Chris Paul:
“He is the guy that makes things work for us and we don’t take him for granted.”
On tonight’s game:
“We came out a little flat but I think we picked it up defensively. That helped us get the momentum we needed to carry us throughout the game.”