Scott expects to shorten rotation in Game 3

Friday, April 24, 2009
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

• Visit Hornets.com's Playoff Central section to listen to Byron Scott's interview with NOLA media today

Without providing specifics, Hornets fifth-year coach Byron Scott said after today’s practice that he is planning to lessen the number of reserves who receive playing time in Game 3. New Orleans has essentially used a 10-man rotation in the first two games.

“I’ve got to cut down our rotation,” Scott told the media at the Alario Center. “It will probably be seven or eight guys (who play), at the most. I’ve got to keep rotating those guys in and out so they stay fresh.”

Scott said that James Posey will be one of the second-unit players in the mix, but after being asked directly for the list of other subs who will appear in Game 3, the 2007-08 Coach of the Year grinned and responded, “you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see that.”

Scott added that Posey’s playing time may increase as a result of the shortened rotation. Posey played 25 and 21 minutes at Denver, but he likely would’ve played more if the Nuggets had not taken control of both games by early in the fourth quarter.

Other news:
• You can talk about game-to-game adjustments, strategy and X’s and O’s all you want, but simply stated, the Hornets must play significantly better basketball to have any chance to get back in the series. Scott believes that one of the most difficult-to-accept aspects of Game 1 and 2 was that New Orleans has made many uncharacteristic mistakes and has not looked like the team it did for much of the 82-game regular season.
“It is frustrating, because we know we take care of the ball a lot better than we have the first two games,” Scott said. “We know we’re a better offensive and defensive team than what we’ve played. We’ve got another opportunity tomorrow, that’s how you’ve got to look at it. … a change of scenery sometimes is good. We know how great our fans have been here over the last couple seasons. We’re looking forward to getting our crowd into it and getting off to a better start.”
The overall numbers certainly back up Scott’s assertion. New Orleans averaged 12.6 turnovers during the regular season, but coughed up 17.0 per game in Denver. The Hornets shot 45.7 percent over the 82-game slate, a number that dropped to 41.4 so far in this series. They allowed 94.3 points per contest, but have given up a gaudy 110.5 vs. the Nuggets.

Game 3 key questions (Nuggets lead series 2-0)
What to watch for in Game 3, as the Hornets try to prevent the Nuggets from taking a virtually insurmountable 3-0 series lead. No team in NBA history has ever rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series:
1) Denver was as impressive as any NBA playoff team this week at the Pepsi Center during the first two games. Can the Nuggets bring their ‘A’ game with them on the road?
New Orleans coaches and players have spent the past two days saying that all Denver has done so far in the series is protect its home court and accomplish what it was “supposed to do” by winning twice in Colorado. Nearly all NBA teams play better at home than on the road (in fact, during the regular season, only one club – Minnesota – had more wins in away games), but Denver’s home-road discrepancy wasn’t as large this season as I initially believed.
The Nuggets were a very good road team during the regular season, going 21-20, tied with the Hornets for sixth-best mark in the league. However, Denver is just 2-11 on the road in the playoffs since 2003-04 (Carmelo Anthony’s rookie season). Of course, it’s debatable how much previous Nuggets stats matter at this point. It’s clear that Chauncey Billups has made them a completely different team than what they’ve fielded in the past. We’ll find out Saturday if the Nuggets can bring their brilliance at home with them to the Big Easy.
2) Will the Hornets be able to generate enough offense to beat the high-powered Nuggets?
A few alarming stats: Since March 11, Denver has scored 100 points or more in 18 of its 19 games. The only time Denver did not reach 100 points over the past six weeks was April 15 at Portland – a game that could be thrown out of the discussion, because the Nuggets rested key players.
During that same six-week timeframe, New Orleans has reached the 100-point mark only six times. The Hornets have scored more than 104 points only once in the last 21 games, a number that Nuggets have reached 15 times in their last 19 outings. Rasual Butler and Peja Stojakovic both improved their shooting in Game 2, but still did not get a ton of touches. Unless both Chris Paul and David West put up huge offensive numbers, New Orleans needs at least one other player to produce in order to keep up with Denver’s attack.
3) Can the Hornets prevent the plays that have helped add fuel to Denver’s game-changing runs?
Whether it’s been sloppy turnovers or the perimeter misses that have led to long rebounds, the Hornets’ offense has contributed to the Nuggets’ fast-break opportunities, as well as explosive runs like a 21-0 spurt that settled Game 1.
Byron Scott believes the high number of Hornets turnovers can be lessened by making safer passes and having a healthier respect for the Nuggets’ length and athleticism. In terms of combating the long rebounds that result from New Orleans routinely taking so many outside shots, the Hornets need to be more disciplined in making sure that they get back on defense. They must make sure that the players who do not have a realistic chance at an offensive board are sprinting back so that the Nuggets stop getting so many 2-on-1 and 3-on-1 chances.