Who saw this result coming? With one of the best records in the league since the All-Star break and a 9-1 mark after Tyson Chandler returned from injury, New Orleans has been playing at a very high level lately. The Hornets hadnt dropped a game by this big of a margin since Jan. 7, when they were blasted by a familiar nemesis, the Jazz, in Salt Lake City.
Tonight the Bulls obliterated the Hornets, taking a 24-point lead in the second quarter. New Orleans (41-24) cut its deficit to 14 by halftime, but Chicago (30-37) regained a sizeable cushion, going up by as many as 32 in the fourth quarter.
The Hornets finished their four-game road trip against Eastern Conference opponents with a 2-2 mark, sandwiching defeats to Atlanta and Chicago around wins over Washington and Milwaukee. Heres an update on the roster following the trip. New Orleans returns home Monday against Houston, the first of five straight games in the Big Easy:
Chris Paul: Brilliant throughout the trip, averaging 28.3 points and 9.5 assists. Perhaps most impressively, he was 41-for-70 from the field (59 percent).
Rasual Butler: Nine straight games over double-digit scoring.
Julian Wright: Made big strides in effort to cement a spot in the rotation. Like last March, his minutes have gone way up; he averaged 22 minutes over the four games.
David West: Shot poorly in both losses, a combined 12-for-35. Averaged 15.0 points and 10.8 boards.
Tyson Chandler: Averaging 9.3 points and 10.6 rebounds in the 11 games since returning from his ankle injury. Hornets are 9-2 in those games.
Peja Stojakovic: Has missed six games to back spasms, opening up starting role for Wright. Hes expected to return soon, though, to help spread the floor on offense.
Sean Marks: Missed last three games to illness. Played seven minutes at Atlanta.
James Posey: Cold shooting for much of the trip, finished 12-for-31 from field (5-19 on three-pointers).
Ryan Bowen: Like Wright, appeared to earn more playing time with several of his trademark hyperactive hustle plays.
Antonio Daniels: Played single-digit minutes in each of the first three games. Was scoreless prior to Saturdays four points.
Hilton Armstrong: Totaled 15 minutes over the first three games prior to 13 minutes Saturday.
Devin Brown: Played sparingly other than Wednesday, but had nine points in 13 minutes during that win over Washington.
Morris Peterson: Entered the game Saturday for the final 10:19, his first action since Jan. 28.
Melvin Ely: Tonight was his first appearance since Feb. 21 at Utah.
HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES
We didn't come ready to play. That's the bottom line. They played like the game meant something to them and we didn't. That's the bottom line. They came out with a lot more energy and were a lot more aggressive from the start of the game. We got down early. I brought in the 2nd unit and we got down even more. We were just never in the game from a mental standpoint or a physical standpoint.
Were you shocked by the performance of the team?
I don't know if it shocks me, but it disappoints me more than anything. We've seen this picture a few times this season where we just don't come out ready to play. We had an opportunity to kind of help ourselves, so it's just disappointing. You could see the fact that they wanted it a whole lot more than we did. They just played harder.
How much of yourself do you see in Derrick Rose:
I think he's a lot faster than me and a lot more explosive than me and he's a lot more athletic. I should be asking what I see myself in him. I think he's adjusted to the game very well.
On tonight's game:
This was a bad loss for us. Not that we played against a bad team, it's just the way we played. We had won 9 out of our last 10 and even that 1 loss we played hard. Tonight was just terrible on both ends of the court in the effort department.
What changed after the first quarter:
Everything. For one thing they made a lot of shots. You can't just say that we played horribly. John Salmons shot the light out of the ball, Ben Gordon does what he usually does, Brad Miller was huge in the game. We just never weathered the storm tonight.