A large group of reporters were on hand at the Alario Center on Friday morning to chat with Hornets coach Byron Scott, including a crew from TNT and well-known sideline reporter Craig Sager. Highlights from Scott’s discussion with the media:
Q: You’ve always said you want to model your team after the Spurs. How do you feel you measure up in some specific areas, such as team defense?
Scott: Well, we’re getting there. We wanted to close the gap this year, not only on them, but also Phoenix and Dallas. When you look at San Antonio, they truly are one of the best franchises in all of sports, and they’ve proven that over the past 10 years. We looked at some of the things they’ve done, as far as character and some of the guys they have on that team, and wanted to have that situation here as well. We’ve closed the gap, but obviously (this series) is the biggest tell-tale sign of how far we’ve come.
Q: Can you compare David West’s game to someone you play with or against? Maybe a player who can mix the physical game with the outside touch?
Scott: There are a few guys that come to mind. Karl Malone comes to mind. He could play inside or outside and was very physical. You had to pick and choose what you wanted to do against him both in the post and on pick-and-rolls. David has that type of ability to knock down shots. He’s gotten to the point on the post where you have to respect him.
We have a bunch of guys who really did what they were supposed to last summer to get ready for this season. One thing we talked about when David and I met (after last season) was being a better post-up player. We know he can make shots. (The improved post game) is why he’s an All-Star this season.
Q: Does West set the tone for the attitude of the Hornets as a team?
Scott: David has that quiet strength. Tyson Chandler is our emotional leader. He’s the one who gets up and down and is our energy-type guy among our starters. David brings that (attitude), Chris Paul brings that. Tyson is just more outward with his (emotions) than the other guys are.
Q: After the incident in the March 12 game in New Orleans that resulted in Bruce Bowen being suspended for a game, do you think your players might give him a little nudge early in Game 1 to say, “Hey, don’t do that to our superstar”?
Scott: No. I think that’s kind of forgotten. Obviously that cost him a (consecutive-games played) streak that he had going. But that was the regular season. We both know it’s going to be a physical series, but no one is going to do anything to get thrown out of a game or get suspended. I think (Bowen) will be on his best behavior. He plays tough, physical basketball and tries to get under your skin. That’s what he does. We’ve just got to keep our composure like we did in the Dallas series, and just keep playing.
Q: How did Melvin Ely do on the scout team today, emulating Tim Duncan?
Scott: [grins] He did alright. I think he has an advantage having played in San Antonio (last season). He knows those guys pretty well. He knows their offensive sets, so obviously he’s a little bit of a ‘coach’ as well for us. He can tell us some of the little ins and outs of what the Spurs do. But San Antonio’s not trying to trick you. Gregg Popovich has a great team. He runs four or five (offensive sets). After timeouts, he’s going to run something special. But they’re not trying to trick you. They say “This is what we’re going to run. Try to stop it.”
Q: Do you expect to see a lot of pick-and-rolls from the Spurs?
Scott: Pick-and-rolls and post-ups. You’ll get a dose of Tim Duncan down in the post. You’re going to get a dose of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili in pick-and-rolls and isolations. They’re so good at what they do and they’ve been doing it so long, that you just have to be very focused on what you’re doing. Because if you make a mistake on the defensive end, they will capitalize.
Q: Speaking of Melvin Ely, with the Spurs being a bigger team than the Mavericks, do you expect Melvin to play more in the series? Do you activate Chris Andersen?
Scott: It’s a bigger team. Being that it is a post-up team first, you’ve got to have some fouls you can give. Those guys are going to be very important. What am I going to do (with the roster and active list)? I’m not sure yet. I’m going to wait until tomorrow (to decide).
Q: Do you have any preference for when Game 2 is scheduled? Monday or Tuesday?
Scott: Not really. I just want to play. The only thing is, 9 o’clock (for Game 1) is a pretty late game.
Q: Anything you tell your players to adjust to a 9 o’clock game?
Scott: Just do what you do normally in your gameday routine. The good thing about it is we’re at home. If we were on the road, that means you have so much more idle time, where you’re sitting around the hotel room. Sometimes you get a little sluggish doing that. But we’re home, so we should be fine.