Paul compiling gaudy stats entering Toronto game

Friday, November 6, 2009
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Over an 8 1/2-minute stretch of tonight’s third quarter, the Raptors drained a barrage of three-pointers, hitting from just about everywhere beyond the arc. Just like that, what had been a closely-contested game turned into a Toronto runaway victory.

New Orleans (2-4) lost for the first time at home in 2009-10, after being outscored 34-14 in the pivotal third period. The Hornets led by 51-49 at halftime but fell behind by 18 after three quarters and never threatened again.

Toronto set a franchise record for most three-pointers in a quarter, going 8-for-13 in the stanza. Hornets coach Byron Scott credited the Raptors’ ball movement, but also blamed his team’s a-step-slow defense.

“Out of the eight they made, we might have contested two of them,” Scott said. “We didn’t do a real good job of coming up and guarding those guys.”

Other news from tonight’s 17-point home loss, which preceded a difficult three-game West Coast trip:

• Scott said he was most disappointed by his perception that the Hornets played sluggishly, especially in the third quarter. “I thought we would come out like gangbusters in the third quarter, but (Toronto) did (instead),” Scott said. “(Toronto) came out and said, ‘hey, we’ve got a chance to win this game. Let’s take it to them.’ We didn’t react real well to it.”

• Chris Paul again accounted for a significant chunk of the Hornets’ offense, logging 21 points and 18 assists. The Hornets did a better job of making shots off Paul feeds tonight; defense was a bigger problem against the Raptors.

• One rare positive was the Hornets’ bench play. Through three quarters, when the game was still somewhat in doubt, New Orleans reserves held a 25-12 edge in points. Of course, by then four Raptors starters had already piled up at least 14 points.

• New Orleans will travel to Los Angeles tomorrow to prepare for a rare back-to-back against both L.A. teams. “We know we’re going against the world champions (on Sunday), and the Clippers are trying to get into the playoff hunt,” Scott said. “Then you’ve got a Phoenix team that is kind of revamped, but they play the same style as we saw tonight. And we seem to have trouble with that – New York plays the same style as well. We’ve got to figure out a way to be a little bit more aggressive on the defensive end.”

• Marcus Thornton made his NBA debut after being on the active roster for the first time. The LSU product played the final 2:01 and scored his first pro basket on a tip-in.

HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES
Hornets Head Coach Byron Scott

On the 32-7 third quarter run: “They were getting threes. For the most part, out of the eight that they made I think we may have contested two of them so we didn’t do a real good job of coming up and guarding those guys. What I thought during the third quarter, especially in the third quarter and in the whole second half, there was a lack of energy. I just didn’t see the energy and I asked the guys after the game. It’s amazing to me because yesterday in practice we just walked through a bunch of stuff, got a little shooting in, it wasn’t a very strenuous practice. It was 2-1/2 or 3 hours so we should have been fresh is what I am saying. For the life of me I can’t understand how we can’t understand why we came out with that type of energy.”
On the Raptors pace: “They were getting up and down the floor and they kept that pace and they just kept attacking. I thought we just kind of accepted it. We didn’t take a stand at any point in the game and say ‘enough is enough’ we have to start guarding these guys a little better, be a little more aggressive and a little more physical. We just kind of allowed them to run their offense and take the shots that they had. I said at halftime, ‘guys on every play you have to be up to the touch and we are just giving them way too much space’, and they made us pay for it. ”

Hornets Forward Julian Wright
“It’s disappointing because it’s been a problem in the past: the scramble and the kick out and the drives. They were a problem again tonight. In the second half we have to do a better job and tighten up defensively.

Hornets Forward David West
“Bosh got rolling. We just didn’t do a good job of helping out Emeka. We’ve got to treat them just like we do everybody else. When they get hot we have to send two guys at them. They just played off, kicking the ball out and Turkoglu made the extra pass. They’ve got the guys to make the shots.”



Hornets.com postgame: Raptors 107, Hornets 90


Wednesday’s victory over Dallas was highlighted by Chris Paul’s brilliant 39-point game, but the Hornets also received season-best performances from some of their role players, including Bobby Brown and Darius Songaila. Entering tonight’s 7 p.m. home game against Toronto (Cox Sports TV pregame show at 6:30), New Orleans (2-3) is still looking for additional contributions from the rest of the roster.

If that happens, Hornets coach Byron Scott may be able to meet his objective of limiting Paul to about 34 or 35 minutes per game this season – and not need the 6-foot point guard to carry such a significant scoring load. However, Scott realizes that CP3 has only been doing what the Hornets need him to do in order to win games.

In 37.8 minutes per game, Paul is registering a career-best 30.0 points per game, while averaging “only” 8.2 assists, compared to the 11.0 assists he averaged last season.

“It’s two things,” Scott said of the early decline in Paul’s assists. “Number one, he’s being more aggressive (shooting). Number two, (teammates) are missing shots.

“He knows right now that we’re going through a bit of a transition. Guys are still trying to understand and know each other, what their strengths and weaknesses are. He knows he needs to be more assertive on the offensive end.”

Paul averaged 38.5 minutes per game last season, a figure Scott wants to cut by four to five minutes in 2009-10. To be able to do that, though, the Hornets will need to receive more scoring punch from other players, particularly at the wing positions.

“I said before the season that he’ll play less minutes but be more effective,” Scott said. “He’ll be more rested and fresher. (So far) those two things are allowing him to be able to singlehandedly take over games in the fourth quarter.

“(But) I’m hoping he doesn’t have to stay on this pace. I think it might wear him out if he stays on this pace of averaging 30 points a game. I’m hoping in a couple weeks from now the load will be lessened, because the other guys will pick it up.”