Chris Paul had no idea he was in the midst of making NBA history. He didn't even realize that his unprecedented feat was something statisticians had been bothering to keep track of. So it was a complete surprise to the 6-foot All-Star point guard when he was informed after Saturday’s game that his 23-point, 13-assist outing signified an NBA first.
Paul became the first player in league annals to begin a regular season with six consecutive 20-point, 10-assist games. In helping end New Orleans’ two-game losing streak, the fourth-year pro broke Oscar Robertson’s record of five straight.
“It’s an honor,” Paul said of the history-making accomplishment. “Oscar Robertson is arguably one of the best to ever play. He averaged a triple-double for an entire season. I never thought that was a stat that they would keep. But as long as we’re winning, I’m cool with it.”
While Paul’s statistics took center stage, he and the Hornets (4-2) were pleased just to get back in the win column, after disappointing defeats to Atlanta and Charlotte.
“There is no reason why we should be going on two-game losing streaks,” Paul said. “Not that we’re not supposed to lose games, but we’re better than what we’ve been showing lately.”
“I think the best thing about (Paul’s 20-10 record) is that everything he does, we need,” David West said. “He’s not a guy going out there padding his stats. He’s going out there making the right play night in and night out, leading us to winning games.”
Other developments from the 11-point victory in front of a sellout crowd of 17,701 in New Orleans:
One night after subpar games by the team’s starting 4 and 5, both players were solid. West had 21 points (7-for-14 shooting) and nine rebounds, while Tyson Chandler registered 13 points and 10 boards. The “Crescent City Connection” alley oop play – which was a constant last season – returned in a big way, with Chandler scoring five baskets that way.
JAMES IN DOUBLE FIGURES
It had been a struggle for backup point guard Mike James through the first five games, including 20 percent shooting from the field (3-for-15). James tallied more points Saturday (10) than he had all season, connecting on 4 of 7 shots. He added two assists.
“It was his best game from an offensive standpoint,” Scott said. “I thought he was overdribbling at times and that’s something I talked about with him. He has to be a point guard and run the show, and get other guys involved.”
Julian Wright had only totaled four minutes through the first five games, but logged nine Saturday. He had two points and three rebounds, and excited fans with a putback dunk just seconds after entering the game in the first quarter. Wright essentially took the place of Devin Brown (DNP-coach’s decision) in the rotation.
“I’m about 99.5 percent healthy,” said Wright, who sustained an ankle injury in Europe during preseason. “No one is going to be 100 percent. I’m trying to get back into a rhythm and get my wind back, that’s the biggest thing. Coach knows that it’s a long season, and he didn’t want to rush me back. I also know that I have to earn my minutes, because I’m behind (other Hornets in the rotation). I’m already in a hole, so I’ve got to work twice as hard in practice.”
In other second-unit news, Rasual Butler continued his timely contributions during the fourth quarter of games. The La Salle product drilled two more perimeter shots during the final stanza.
“It just feels good to be back out there playing again,” said Butler, who did not appear in a game after March 3 in 2007-08. “Fortunately my teammates have been finding me when I’m open (during fourth quarters) and I’ve been blessed to knock down those shots. I’m just trying to build off that.”
HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES
"We played tonight with a sense of urgency. I was a little worried in the third quarter, but we able to bounce back again. That is the type of team we are. What helped us was that urgency.”
On the game: “We knew we had to come in here tonight and dominate more than we did last night.” “We came out aggressive and had to make sure that we maintained our aggressiveness.”
On the game and the loss: “We had our best win, we contested shots, got clean rebounded and ran, with the two games we lost we struggled because we could not get anything clean, everything we did get were fumbling around and walking the ball of the court, which is not our style of playing.”
On the game: “I think we did a great job on moving the ball we were actually making shots, that always makes it a little bit easier. Guys really stepped up, Tyson did a great job on the glass, Peja shot balls well and D. West had an outstanding game.”
On his record: “This is a very unusual stat. Assists only occur when your teammates do what they are suppose to be doing.”
HEAT POSTGAME QUOTES
On Chris Paul: “He’s such a special player and aggressively gets into the paint and makes plays. Even from our vantage point I couldn’t tell what play he was making. Sometimes he would hold the ball until the very last second where we thought we had him corralled and he seemed to find the one open person on the floor usually a three point shooter. They hit some big ones, that’s a veteran team that’s been through some tough time last year. That’s why they play together and have confidence like a team that has been around.”