Hornets.com postgame: Suns 124, Hornets 104

Thursday, November 12, 2009
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

ESPN’s cameras panned to the Hornets’ huddle during one first-half timeout and filmed Byron Scott telling his players, “It’s like a layup drill out there (on Phoenix’s offensive end).” Scott’s observation neatly summed up the way the Suns dominated tonight’s national TV game, continuing their early-season hot streak at the expense of the Hornets (3-6).

Phoenix (8-1) poured in 76 points in the first half and built a 27-point lead early in the third quarter to quickly decide the outcome. New Orleans finished 1-2 on its West Coast trip and will return to Louisiana for a scheduled practice Thursday and Friday’s home game vs. Portland.

More from Wednesday’s defeat in Arizona:

• ESPN analyst Mark Jackson mentioned several times what was readily apparent from watching the game: the Suns outworked the Hornets all over the floor. At one stage of the first half, Phoenix led in rebounding 18-4. The hosts seemed a step quicker to loose balls and capitalized on many New Orleans miscues.

• For whatever reason, the Hornets missed a slew of point-blank shots around the basket. During one first-half sequence, two New Orleans players missed layups on a fast break; seconds later, Phoenix drained another three-pointer on the other end to expand its burgeoning lead.

• Facing an opponent that scores points by the bushel, the Hornets needed to shoot well – which they’ve done often against the Suns in previous seasons – but they were subpar in that category. Peja Stojakovic went 0-for-8, while David West was 3-for-9. Coming off his fantastic 25-point game at the Clippers, Devin Brown made three of 12 attempts.

• Rookies Marcus Thornton and Darren Collison provided a few positive moments in their second game as part of the rotation. Thornton was aggressive on offense, scoring five points in seven first-half minutes. Collison nailed a 20-foot jumper in the first half and was relentless on the ball defensively. He finished with 10 points, including eight in the second half.

HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES (courtesy Phoenix Suns)

(On Tonight’s game)
“I thought Phoenix was much more aggressive, much more physical than we were. They just beat us down on the boards, offensively, everything. And I don’t look at them as a physical basketball team. When you get the reputation around the league of being a bit of a soft team, teams come at you. And I thought that’s what they did, they came out more aggressive on both ends of the floor. I thought we came in and took a major step backward in all areas; from the defensive end, from a physical standpoint, from a pick and roll defense and our blocking out was just terrible. They took advantage of every opportunity."

(On tonight’s game)
“Rebounding was an issue for us tonight, they got a lot of offensive rebounds early in the game and that’s an offensive powerhouse over there. You’ve got to give them one shot and try to make them miss and if you give them multiple opportunities, obviously they’re going to score.”
(On Phoenix this season v. last season)
“They’re a totally different team. I think they’re like the Phoenix Suns of my rookie year and my second year in the league. I give them a lot of credit. They did a great job putting those pieces back together. Add Channing Frye as the 5 and keep the floor spaced. Now Amar’e is rolling and you help with the roll and they got shooters.”

(On Tonight’s game)
“They got on us early and we were just trying to catch up all night. It’s hard to win a game doing that, especially against a team as good as that. They do an excellent job spreading the floor and you have to commend them on how they play and they did a great job tonight. ”

Bower takes over as Hornets head coach

By now you’ve heard the news that New Orleans general manager Jeff Bower is the Hornets’ new head coach, effective immediately, with Byron Scott departing after five-plus seasons with the team. Scott led the Hornets to the only division title in franchise history (in 2007-08) and helped guide the club from 18 wins in his initial season to contending status in the Western Conference.

The entire press conference announcing the coaching change is available in Hornets.com’s audio section, but since you may not have time to listen to all 30-plus minutes, here are a few main points:

• The Hornets’ assistant coaching staff will remain the same, other than the addition of former Hornets head coach Tim Floyd, who will serve as Bower’s top assistant. Floyd was New Orleans’ head coach during the 2003-04 season, when the Hornets finished 41-41 and took the Heat to a Game 7 in the first round of the playoffs (Dwyane Wade’s rookie year).

• There was an initial misconception among some NOLA media members that Bower was taking over the coaching position on an interim basis, but team president Hugh Weber clarified that Bower does not have an interim tag. He is the permanent head coach. Bower will retain his duties as GM, the position he’s held since the 2005-06 season.

• It’s unclear what immediate changes Bower will make to the Hornets’ starting lineup and rotation. Scott recently made two changes to the starting lineup earlier this week, replacing Morris Peterson and Julian Wright at the wing positions with Devin Brown and Peja Stojakovic. “We’re going to take a good hard look at roles and maybe redistribute in some areas,” Bower said of potential rotation alterations. “But I’m going to wait until I get a chance to speak to the players individually (Friday).”