Big Easy Buzz Blog - November 11, 2007

Hornets Look To Bounce Back In Philadelphia

Sunday, November 11, 2007
By: Jim


If you remember back to 2006-07, New Orleans put together one of the NBA's best starts at 4-0, but dropped the next three games. The Hornets (4-2) hope that scenario doesn't repeat itself Sunday, when they visit the Philadelphia 76ers in Pennsylvania. The 5 p.m. game is available on NBA League Pass and the Hornets Radio Network (pregame "Hornets Warmup" show begins at 4:30). The Sixers are 2-3 and coming off a home defeat to Toronto on Friday. Although they weren't given much respect from preseason prognosticators, projected as the Atlantic Division's last-place team, they seemed like a very bad matchup for the Hornets last season, winning both head-to-head meetings. Those defeats proved costly for New Orleans later in the regular season, when they couldn't close the gap in the playoff race. Check back after the game for insights from Philadelphia. With New Orleans playing at New Jersey, an even more formidable opponent, on Monday, the Hornets would love to regain some of the momentum from their second straight 4-0 start to an NBA season.

Five Observations: Hornets 93, 76ers 72

After a tight first quarter Sunday, New Orleans dominated the middle periods, outscoring Philadelphia 54-30 en route to a runaway victory. The Hornets snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 5-2. Four different players reached double figures for the winners, headed by 16 apiece from Chris Paul and David West.

Here are five observations from the 21-point victory at the Wachovia Center:

1) Hornets turn in best defensive statistical performance in over two years.
New Orleans was picked apart on the defensive end by a veteran San Antonio team on Friday, as the Spurs shot 51.9 percent from the field. On Sunday, the Hornets allowed their fewest points by an opponent since October 2005, when they held Sacramento to 69 points in an Opening Night game. After giving up 24 points in the first quarter Sunday, New Orleans allowed just 13, 17 and 18 points, respectively, in the last three stanzas.

“I thought that we definitely competed and I knew in my heart that we would,” Hornets coach Byron Scott said. “After watching tape of the last game, I don’t think the guys were happy with (the San Antonio game). I was really happy with the way we reacted (Sunday) to getting our butts kicked. I loved the effort. After about the five-minute mark of the first quarter, I thought we really did a good job.” Philadelphia shot 40.5 percent overall and 13.3 percent from the three-point arc (2-for-15). The Hornets blocked only one shot (Ryan Bowen) but were active defensively for much of the game. Philadelphia committed 18 turnovers, including five by star Andre Iguodala.

2) The shooters bounce back.

The players who will likely take the most outside shooters for New Orleans all season – Morris Peterson, Peja Stojakovic and Rasual Butler – each saw dips in their perimeter accuracy during the brief two-game losing skid, but combined to go 10-for-19 from the field Sunday. Overall, the Hornets were outstanding from three-point range, canning 10 of 20 trey attempts. New Orleans drained seven three-pointers in the middle quarters, a big part of the 54-30 scoring edge.

3) This time, New Orleans owns the third quarter.

The Hornets came out after intermission in the past two games poorly, getting outscored 29-18 by San Antonio and 32-15 at Portland. Against Philadelphia, New Orleans held a 26-17 advantage. Stojakovic and Peterson helped ignite a 12-0 run by combining on three third-period treys, while Paul posted seven points.

4) Jannero Pargo provides significant second-quarter spark.

If you didn’t get to watch this game and just scanned through the box score, you probably wouldn’t take much note of Pargo’s eight points. However, the 6-foot-1 backup guard was big in the second period, racking up all of his points in rapid fashion. Over a nine-minute stretch in the second, the Hornets went on a 20-6 run, building a double-digit lead after trailing 24-23 through 12 minutes.

5) With a tough test at New Jersey in less than 24 hours, it was a plus for the starters to get some rest.

New Orleans was afforded a rare opportunity Sunday: Leading by 23 at the outset of the fourth quarter, all five starters watched the final period from the sideline. The group of Bowen, Butler, Pargo, Jackson and Hilton Armstrong kept the Hornets comfortably in front throughout the fourth. The Hornets face New Jersey at 6:30 p.m. Monday, a difficult test on paper, but New Orleans may catch a break after Vince Carter sprained an ankle vs. Boston on Saturday. He is a possible scratch from Monday’s game at the Izod Center.

“It’s always good when you can get that rest, especially on the front end of a back-to-back,” West said. “New Jersey is a very tough and talented basketball team. They traditionally have given us some trouble the last few years, so we’re going to have our hands full. But it was good for us to be able to sit out (in the fourth quarter). We’re going to be well-rested for tomorrow.”

Scott: "I’m a Vince Carter fan – I think he’s a great guy and an unbelievable player. But if he’s not (playing), I’m certainly not going to be crying about it, that’s for sure. (But) if he’s not there, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easier game. Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson, those guys can get it done. We’ve got to be ready to play.”