Scott: preseason problem areas are correctable

Friday, October 16, 2009
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Name the facet of the game, and the numbers are not pretty so far for the Hornets through five preseason contests. New Orleans (1-4) is shooting poorly (just below 40 percent from the field) and struggling on the defensive end (48 percent shooting by opponents). In their four defeats, the Hornets have dug halftime holes of 26, 15, 26 and 17 points, respectively – an average of 21.0 points down at intermission.

When basketball analysts say that it’s difficult to build immediate chemistry if a team is integrating several new players, they usually are referring to the offensive end. But five games into an eight-game preseason slate, Hornets coach Byron Scott views that challenge as being more visible on defense so far.

“They’re not trusting each other (defensively),” Scott said after practice today. “A little bit of that is having a bunch of new guys. That’s something that will come, but we’ve got to continue to work toward that goal. Guys were very slow in rotations last night (vs. Miami), because they’re not sure or not fully trusting each other.”

Specifically, Scott pointed to poor individual execution against pick-and-roll plays. Also, in some cases, defenders stationed away from the ball have positioned themselves too far out of the play to help against penetration or ball movement.

“In our pick-and-roll defense, our bigs have been so-so,” Scott said. “They’ve got to do a much better job of helping our guards. But our guards have to be better at keeping guys in front of them. It goes hand-in-hand. But all of the things we’re doing wrong, they’re in our control.

“Even though it’s preseason, we still have some concerns. On the defensive end, we’re making way too many mistakes. But all of the mistakes that we’re making, we can eliminate them. We need to be much more focused on the game plan and what we’re trying to do. That last game against Miami we gave up 40-something points on our mistakes. That was almost half of their points.”

New Orleans’ final home preseason game is Saturday at 7 p.m. vs. the Indiana Pacers. The status of Emeka Okafor and Ike Diogu remains uncertain. Diogu practiced today, but Okafor did not, spending part of the session on a treadmill as NBA TV’s cameras filmed practice for an upcoming “Real Training Camp” show.

“(Okafor) probably won’t play Saturday as of right now,” said Scott, who added that both players will be re-evaluated at Saturday’s shootaround in the New Orleans Arena.