When Hornets players have recently tried to assess what must improve for the team to make strides in 2010-11, defense has often been the biggest area of emphasis. Tonights defeat could serve as Exhibit A for why its critical for New Orleans (35-43) to shore up its weaknesses at that end of the floor.
Facing a New Jersey team with the worst record in the NBA, the Hornets provided little resistance as the Nets piled up 115 points and scored repeated baskets on layups, fast-break dunks and close-range hoops within their halfcourt attack. As a result, New Jersey (11-65) registered its largest margin of victory this season, only the fourth time in 2009-10 that the Nets have won by double digits.
The Hornets defensive results have been trending downward for several weeks, but given the opponent and its style of play, this was unquestionably one of the poorest outings of the season. Excluding games against teams such as Golden State and Phoenix that play at an extremely fast pace, the loss at New Jersey was the most points New Orleans has given up since Feb. 24 in Milwaukee.
Over the past 18 games since March 1, the Hornets have given up 100 points or more 14 times. Their record during that span is 4-14.
The Nets won for the fourth time in the past six games behind an impressively balanced effort. Eight different New Jersey players tallied double-digit scoring, the first time the Nets have done that since Nov. 27, 2002. Strangely enough, neither member of the Nets promising starting backcourt of Devin Harris and Courtney Lee were in that group, but five different reserves had 10 points or more. Nets first-round pick Terrence Williams enjoyed one of the best games of his rookie season, distributing 14 assists to go along with 14 points.
HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES (courtesy New Jersey Nets)
New Orleans Head Coach Jeff Bower:
The Nets fast break points totally controlled the game. Their ability to turn stops and turnovers into points got them out early and gave them some energy and some confidence and the Nets took it from there. It was hard to stop the fast break, we were having a difficult time getting points ourselves and having to work on every possession was a bad mix.
Hornets Forward David West:
(On the Nets game plans
They ran and were too athletic on the wing. We couldnt guard them out front at all. Terrence Williams was just too much in terms of when he was on the court he changed the game. He was a bad match up for us. We were never able to get then under control.
(On the Hornets effort under the circumstances
Coming off the back to back we wanted to give a better effort than what we gave. Theyve been playing loose all year. They just were better than us.
Hornets guard Chris Paul
(on the Nets game plan
They made a lot of shots. Yi did a good job knocking down shots and Terrence Williams hurt us. It was an all around good game for them.
(on the reason for the loss
"I dont know. We just couldnt execute and make shots. Thats why we lost."
(on the team)
"With any team when someone goes down with an injury for a long time its going to be an adjustment. We played strong but its always tough. It was tough watching because you have to come back and get your rhythm."