Unlike Fridays rout in OKC, the Hornets were hard-pressed to put any distance between themselves and the Thunder during Saturdays back-to-back. Good thing New Orleans' two All-Stars both had their best statistical games of the season.
Chris Paul registered the fifth triple-double of his career with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 16 assists, while David West tallied a season-high 33 points. After a 25-point runaway the night before, the Hornets were challenged this time by the Thunder, who only trailed by five at halftime and were within striking distance throughout the second half.
New Orleans (7-5) is hopeful that its two-game sweep over Oklahoma City will generate some momentum this week, when the Hornets head to the West Coast to open a three-game road trip. The trek starts Monday at the Clippers and continues in Denver and Portland.
We really needed these wins, Paul said, especially going into this road trip. Hopefully we can build off these wins and were not just a two-hit wonder.
Other developments from Saturdays 12-point victory:
Twenty-four hours after what was easily his best game of the season, Hilton Armstrong received more praise from Byron Scott. The UConn product scored six points in 14 minutes Saturday.
Hilton has done a heck of a job the last couple games, Scott said.
When asked what caused Armstrongs improvement vs. the Thunder, Scott joked that it was because the 6-11 center was, scared that Im going to sit him down."
Just the fact that its his third year, Scott said more seriously of Armstrongs upgraded outings. Hes starting to understand (the game) better, he has more confidence, and experience is always one of your best teachers. He has a pretty good feel for what he wants to do on the court. The biggest thing is to get him in better shape. His conditioning has to keep improving so he can play longer stretches at a time.
Devin Brown rolled his ankle while retreating on defense in the second quarter, forcing his exit from the game. He did not return. Brown is listed as day-to-day.
Obviously if we dont have Devin (due to his injury), were really going to miss him, Scott said. Because I think hes played extremely well for the last five games.
SCOTT ON THE TRIP
Scotts assessment of the three opponents on the upcoming road trip: Its a Clippers team that has a lot of talent. Denver has been playing very well since they made the Chauncey (Billups) trade. And Portland always plays us tough in Portland.
HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES
On the game: We came out with more energy than last night, we tried to really clamp down on the defensive end. We did a much better job on the board tonight against their front line guys. My message tonight at the beginning of the game was our guards had to outplay their guards, our big men and had to out play their big men and our bench had to out play their bench.
On Oklahoma City new coach Scott Brooks: I thought he did a good job on trying to keep (the Thunder offense) structured, and on making sure they got in place.
On coming back vs. same team after blowout win the night before: We had a good run last night and won by a big margin. We knew they were going to come out tougher, come out with more energy. And they did it, but we were able to hold them off.
On playing with more energy the last two games: I thought we were moving around great out there. I thought we were moving around great defensively, but they just made some shots, unfortunately, early on in the game."
On David Wests performance: It seemed like he had 43 or 50. You just give it to him on the block, and he was just going to work."
On Chris Pauls performance, triple-double: I didnt think he was going to get the last rebound, but it was good to see him get it. And, its great for the ballclub. One thing I always appreciate about him is that he always gets other guys going first. Hes always handling the ball. Hes always dribbling the ball, so he can always get his. But he always makes sure to get his teammates involved.
On coming back vs. same team after blowout win the night before: We knew that they were going to come out with a better effort. We played pretty well at their place last night, so we knew that they wanted to show some resolve tonight and try to win. We just tried to focus in on some of their key guys. Durant had a pretty good night, but we made him take as many tough shots as possible. We tried to stay with our defensive plans, and get out in the open floor a little more.
THUNDER POSTGAME QUOTES
On his first NBA game as head coach: We shared the ball a lot better tonight, and I think we played with a lot more energy. Our guys are tired right now, and its a good tired, I think they played with the kind of energy our fans can be proud of. This was a tough day, with the team in some tough circumstances, and they came to play and leave it on the court.
On Chris Paul and David West: Their two best players both had monster games against us, and theyre one of the best teams in the NBA, and its going to be tough for anyone to win when that happens.
On the game: Theyre really good. They give everybody trouble. We had a tough time with Paul on the pick and roll. They did a good job of putting that team together with weapons. We did a good job of not letting Chandler get loose for lobs, but they started getting guys open on the perimeter hitting open shots. It was better than last night, but we still have a long ways to go. I think our energy was better and we moved the ball a lot better.