Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 123, Rockets 115

Wednesday, April 14, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Over the two-plus weeks since the Hornets have been officially eliminated from postseason contention, David West has repeatedly told reporters that it’s important for the team to be “professional” and play with pride, even though they can’t make the playoffs. Although New Orleans (37-45) didn’t always deliver victories during this recent stretch, the Hornets and West wrapped up 2009-10 with two of their stronger performances without Chris Paul this season. The Hornets equaled their second-best scoring output by piling up 123 points in Houston; West led the way with 35 points on 16-for-20 shooting. In the same Toyota Center facility earlier this season, the two-time All-Star power forward registered his career-high with 44 points.

“We play these guys so much,” West explained of another big game vs. the Southwest Division rival Rockets. “It’s just a place I feel comfortable in.”

The Hornets headed into the offseason with back-to-back victories, including a 28-point victory in their home finale Sunday vs. Minnesota. Moments after tonight’s win, West discussed the mini-streak and alluded to an upcoming summer that could be a very eventful one for New Orleans.

“We just wanted to end the year on a positive note, and be able to close it out with a win,” West said. “(It was important) to feel good about the way we competed tonight, and then worry about everything else later.”

In a fitting ending to the 82-game regular season based on the way it unfolded, rookie guards Darren Collison (26 points, 11 assists) and Marcus Thornton (20 points, 6 assists) combined for 46 points and 17 assists.

• As Hornets host Joe Block detailed during tonight's radio postgame show, the next certain event of importance for the Hornets will take place roughly five weeks from now, when the NBA hosts its draft lottery Tuesday, May 18. The Hornets finished the regular season with the 11th-worst record in the league, meaning that there most probable pick in the 2010 NBA Draft will be No. 11 of the first round. New Orleans does not have a second-round pick, due to the extremely fruitful draft-night trade in '09 for Marcus Thornton.

HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES (courtesy Houston Rockets)

(On the game) “We're very happy with the way we played and finished off the season. I was pleased with our offensive execution and our passing. David West had a great offensive game and we scored a lot off his post up positions.”
(On the team's play this season) “I think we showed our biggest change in our transition game and our offensive flow. We became a real scoring threat in the open court. We had to work extremely all year to defend the paint inside. That's where most of our problems came from.”
(On the Rockets season) “Houston was outstanding all season when you consider their injury situation. The adaptability they showed early in the season was key. They pushed the pace and their scoring increased.”

(On the season) “Obviously I'm disappointed the way the season turned out. We had some lessons with chemistry and how the key came together. We are not where we want to be. We played very hard but we didn't get where we wanted to. We are in the catch-up mode and we have to get better. I don't know what's missing. When you miss a guy like C.P. (Chris Paul) for 37 games it is just too much to be able to make up.”
(On the game) “We finished the way we wanted to. We wanted to come out with a good effort and we wanted to feel good about ourself. We felt like we would play with high intensity. We are comfortable playing against Houston.”

(On the game) “We wanted to come out and get a win in the last game. Houston has very good guards and I wanted to compete against them. I thought as a team we showed growth all season. It's frustrating to not be in the playoffs.”
(On defending Brooks) “He is one of the top point guards in the league and I really enjoy watching him play. He is an extremely good player and you want to do your best against him.”