Based on the final few minutes, you never wouldve known it was only preseason. In a nip-and-tuck affair, Byron Scott subbed four of his starters and James Posey back into the game in the fourth quarter. Scott had vowed to use his first string for a larger portion vs. the Pacers and he wasnt kidding four starters logged 30-plus minutes.
The regulars teamed up to keep the Hornets (6-0) perfect in preseason, outplaying the Pacers in the late going to secure another victory.
With most of the 12,684 fans in attendance on their feet for the last few possessions, the atmosphere in the New Orleans Arena resembled a regular season contest. Hornets All-Stars Chris Paul (23 points, 15 assists, 36 minutes) and David West (26 points, 12-for-17 shooting) also put up statistics that looked like their lines after a game that counted in the standings.
They look like theyre in midseason form already, Scott described of Paul and West. They played like All-Stars.
New Orleans will try to cap a perfect exhibition slate on Thursday in Mobile, Ala., when it faces Miami. The Hornets are the only team in the league that has not lost a preseason game.
Other notes from Tuesday:
FOCUS ON THE BENCH
Scott emphasized that he wants to see his reserves mesh better as a group and be less concerned about how they fare offensively.
I think most of them think that their playing time is predicated on how well they do offensively, Scott said. Its not. It has nothing to do with their offense. You can still hustle, still defend, still communicate. Those are all things they have to do every single night. The talk (Ill have) with that unit is to make sure they understand that Im not looking for offense. Im looking for you to be tenacious on the defensive end.
Im trying to get a second unit I can trust to go out there and do the things we want them to do.
WATCHING THE MINUTES
Although Paul and West played more Tuesday than youd expect in a preseason game, Scott says he wants both to average fewer minutes in the regular season, even if its only a minute or two less per game.
Im trying to knock a couple minutes off both of those guys (averages), Scott said. So that theyre fresher when the seasons over and were getting ready for the postseason. But the bottom line is were still trying to win games.
You hope that your second unit can come in and take some of that pressure off, so that they dont have to play big minutes. I have a lot of confidence that well be able to do that this year.
Hornets postgame quotes
Hornets Head Coach Byron Scott
On the game: It was a good chance for us to have a tight game. It was good to see the way we reacted. It was a good game for us because Indiana is a tough team.
We have come a long way in a short period of time, and we still have a long way to go. I think Im ready for the season, I think they are ready for the season. I am very happy with the way preseason has gone thus far.
Forward Rasual Butler
On his play: I played better tonight. I tried to do some positive things for us. Im out there to be an offensive threat.
Guard Chris Paul
On the game: This is a game we definitely needed. Especially now, gearing up for the regular season. Whether its pre-season or not, we want to experience success. We want to get better as a team. Were always going to play to win. We played this like a regular season game. I got to play the fourth quarter. We understand we have to get better defensively, but thats what the pre-season is for.