Hornets now 10 games under .500 without Paul

Thursday, April 8, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Surrounded by reporters after the Charlotte loss, Chris Paul retreated one step backward while discussing one of his biggest hopes for next season. The 6-foot point guard made a fist, then made contact with the left border of his locker-room stall, which is wooden on both sides.

“Knock on wood,” Paul said of his wish to be injury-free in 2010-11. “But I can’t change (the injuries that took place this season). I think the best thing for me to do now is rest, pray about it, and hope (a torn finger ligament) heals up as quickly as possible.”

Although New Orleans (35-44) had several stretches this season in which it competed admirably without the three-time All-Star – even beating teams such as Boston and Orlando in February – the cold reality is that the Hornets were not able to maintain it for long enough to remain in the playoff race. Given that it’s possible all eight postseason qualifiers in the Western Confence will win at least 50 games, the Hornets’ current 12-22 record without Paul left them with almost zero margin for error in their bid for a third straight playoff trip.

“We feel we were a playoff team (midway through the season) and can play with the teams that are in the playoffs,” Hornets GM/coach Jeff Bower said. “The stretch of games we went through shorthanded really had a major impact on our ability to be in the playoffs this year.

“It’s had a major impact on the season, the injuries, and not only Chris’ injury, but also Darius Songaila and his stretch, and Peja (Stojakovic) with this lengthy stretch of games as well.”

The Hornets were already facing a tall order to get back in the race when Stojakovic (abdominal strain) began missing games on March 10, but that injury factored into a plummet that put New Orleans into an even bigger hole. Since a loss at Oklahoma City on March 10, the Hornets are just 3-12 and have been held under 90 points four times, all double-figure losses.