Hornets.com postgame: Knicks 103, Hornets 93

Friday, March 27, 2009
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

New Orleans (44-27) began Friday night without its starting center and small forward, both due to injury. By the end of one of the more frustrating defeats of the season, the Hornets were also missing their new starting pivot and their backup small forward.

With a big third quarter, New York (29-43) capped a 2-0 season sweep of New Orleans and handed the Hornets their second straight defeat following a three-game winning streak. The Knicks trailed by seven at halftime but dominated the next 12 minutes to the tune of 35-16.

By the time New York had put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter, New Orleans’ Hilton Armstrong and James Posey were both out of the mix, but for differing reasons. Armstrong, who had six points and three rebounds in 17 minutes, sprained his right ankle by stepping on the foot of referee Gary Zielinski, who was standing on the baseline. “If any play has defined the last three months of the season for the Hornets, it might be that play,” Hornets TV’s Bob Licht described.

Later, a frustrated James Posey was ejected for tossing the ball in the direction of Zielinski, who had just called a loose-ball foul on Posey. The ball short-hopped Zielinski and bounced off his shins. Hornets TV sideline reporter Jordy Hultberg said Zielinski told Byron Scott that “Posey looked me right in the eyes, then threw the ball right at my feet.”

Other than the Hornets’ All-Star duo of David West (11-for-19, 29 points) and Chris Paul (8-for-18, 22 points), New Orleans needed more offensive contributions. If not for a late spurt in the final few minutes, the visitors would’ve finished the second half with about 35 points. New York piled up 61 points after the break, including draining eight three-pointers.

"We looked at this as a winnable game if we played the way we're capable of," Scott said afterward. "Obviously in the second half we didn't do that. We got what we deserved."

More news from Madison Square Garden tonight:

• Paul and Nate Robinson had a minor scrap in the fourth quarter after Paul backed down the 5-foot-8 Knick into the paint, and Robinson responded by getting in Paul’s face. Cooler heads prevailed, though Robinson was pulled from the game shortly thereafter and showed his displeasure by yelling in the direction of the Knicks’ coaches.

• Morris Peterson was solid off the bench, tallying nine points on three three-pointers in 20 minutes. The Hornets were plus-9 with him on the floor, a team-best tonight. Posey started strong by hitting his first three-pointer, but finished 3-for-8.

Byron Scott

On tonight’s game:
“I thought that they [Knicks] came out aggressive and I thought we were so passive. In the 3rd quarter, we talked about coming out aggressively and really trying to jump on them…I thought it was the other way around. I thought we came out real passive. David [Lee] started out with a little jump shot and then three straight lay-ups. Mentally, it just did not seem like we were into the game in the 3rd quarter. I thought that they [the Knicks] came out with more energy. I told the guys after the game…it is mind boggling to me that we would play that way in the second half…like the game almost did not mean that much to us. They just out worked us.
More on tonight’s loss and the Knicks:
“It is a terrible loss. We know how hot the Knicks can get. We are also playing a team that is out of the playoffs.”

Chris Paul
On the altercation with Nate Robinson:
“I don’t know. I just play. I shot two free throws and we kept moving. They won the game. I guess that makes him the better player. It’s part of the game. It’s the competitive nature. I didn’t think anything of it. We both got double technical’s, fined, two free throws and we kept playing.”
On injuries:
“It’s tough, but we’ve been through this situation before and other guys have been stepping up and playing pretty well. But we can’t relax right now. Everybody’s always talking about fighting for the eighth spot, and phoenix trying to catch San Antonio but all those teams are catching us so we have to step it up."
On the start of the second half:
“We came out soft. We came out real soft. First play David Lee hit a jump shot then they came down, and pick and roll, pick and roll and we never met their intensity, so that was a problem.”

Chandler will miss next 7-14 days

The Hornets announced this morning that Tyson Chandler will miss the next 7-14 days due to inflammation of his left ankle. His ankle will be immobilized for those 7-14 days. Upon conclusion, he will be re-evaluated and will immediately begin rehabilitation of his ankle. Chandler is expected to be back during the regular season. He did not travel with the team for tonight's game against the Knicks.

The 7-foot-1 center has missed 26 games this season, primarily to the ankle injury. New Orleans is 30-14 when Chandler plays and 14-12 with him sidelined. His last appearance was March 16 vs. Houston. New Orleans has won 11 of the past 14 games in which Chandler has played.