Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 99, Mavericks 97

Wednesday, November 17, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Hornets (9-1), Mavericks (7-3)

It was over when… David West stole Tyson Chandler’s Hail Mary-like inbound pass, with the Mavericks trailing by two and less than two seconds remaining. It was West’s second crucial steal in the final 10 seconds of the game, after he snared the ball away from Dirk Nowitzki on Dallas’ previous possession.

Hornets MVP: Chris Paul finished with 20 points and 11 assists. He did his best offensive work in the momentum-turning third quarter, when he suddenly became more aggressive and tallied 13 points. New Orleans looked to be in some trouble at halftime, trailing by 10, but outscored Dallas by a 33-17 margin in the third period.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: The Hornets' bench was a bit quieter than usual Wednesday, getting outscored 36-20 by their Mavericks counterparts. Willie Green scored nine points in 19 minutes of playing time, highlighted by seven second-quarter points.

The buzz on… Dallas’ overwhelming reliance on a zone defense, instead of man-to-man. I can’t recall the last time an NBA team played zone defense on seemingly 80 to 90 percent of possessions over a full game, as the Mavericks did in two straight meetings. Hornets players said after the game they believed the strategy was implemented to avoid some individual matchup problems on the defensive end for the Mavs. Zone also helps protect players in foul trouble from additional fouls, because they can’t be targeted in an isolation situation.

“The zone hides certain guys,” David West explained. “It took us awhile to understand what we needed to do to respond to it.”

It’s possible the Hornets will see more zone defense in upcoming games, based on opponents observing them having sporadic problems against the Mavericks’ version of it. “Other teams that watch film, they’re probably going to try to play some zone against us,” Green said. “We’re just going to have to work on it in practice and get better and better at it. If teams use it, we’ve got to do a good job of attacking it.”

Blog question of the night: Over the past three days, we witnessed two games that could’ve easily passed for Western Conference playoff tilts. Based on what you’ve seen from the Mavericks and the rest of the West in the first three weeks of the season, which team (excluding the Hornets) is the biggest threat to the Lakers?