Hornets.com 1-on-1: Indiana’s Danny Granger

Friday, November 23, 2007
By: Nick O’Hayre, Hornets.com

Hornets.com chatted with Pacers forward and Metairie native Danny Granger prior to Wednesday’s game. Since Indiana did not play in the Big Easy in either of the past two regular seasons due to the schedule, Granger was making his first appearance in an official NBA game at the New Orleans Arena.

Hornets.com: Your stats have increased significantly over the past two seasons and you’re leading Indiana in scoring. What have you been focusing on in your game during the past two summers?

Granger: It is a combination of both getting used to playing in the NBA and also working a lot in the offseason to improve all aspects of my game. Playing NBA basketball is a process that takes some time to get used to.

Hornets.com: How often have you gotten to come home to New Orleans since your NBA career began?

Granger: In the summers I come back, but it is hard to come back during the season. This is the first time I’ve actually gotten to play here. It is always a special feeling to get to come back. I get to play in front of my home crowd and a lot of family and friends. I live kind of far away in Indiana, so they don't really get to see me play too much, so it is always fun.

Hornets.com: Did you have to get a lot of tickets for friends and family for the game tonight? Did any of your teammates help you out at all by letting you use theirs?

Granger: I'm on my way to try and find some more right now man! [laughs] That's all I've been doing the past 25 minutes! It's nice though that my teammates are helping me out. Whenever someone goes to their hometown we make sure to take care of them.

Hornets.com: What was the best part of growing up in New Orleans for you?

Granger: The food! (My favorites foods were) gumbo, po boys, you name it. All the stuff I don't get in Indiana! But growing up here was great because of the culture here, the Creole and French Quarter, there is just so much history. It was just a lot of fun growing up in the New Orleans area.

Hornets.com: What impact has new Pacers head coach Jim O’Brien had on you individually or the team’s style of play?

Granger: He has made a great impact. I think he's changing the basis of the way we approach games and the intensity in which we come out and play. He is really trying to get us to be a really hard-nosed defensive team and then open up the offense on the offensive end, so it is a great style of play.

Hornets.com: Since New Orleans did not have an NBA team when you were growing up, who did you root for?

Granger: My favorite team was the Bulls! Jordan and Pippen, man. I chose the number 33 because of Scottie Pippen. I kind of molded my game after his. Those championships couldn't have happened without him.



NBA Notebook: So Much For A Slow Start In Boston

By: Hornets.com

Throughout the 2007-08 regular season, Hornets.com’s Jim Eichenhofer, Cris Quintana and Dennis Rogers will provide a roundtable look around the league in a weekly NBA Notebook feature. Each week, we’ll discuss five topics that are making news and bring in guests from other NBA websites. This week’s guest: Peter Stringer of Celtics.com.

To provide your opinion on any subject addressed in the NBA Notebook, send an e-mail to Hornets.com’s Jim Eichenhofer at jime@hornets.com.

BOSTON OPENS WITH EIGHT STRAIGHT WINS.

Conventional wisdom this summer about the Celtics was that they might struggle early in the 2007-08 regular season. Most analysts believed that with so many new faces on the roster following the blockbuster Minnesota trade – combined with the challenge of trying to figure out how to get three stars enough shots – November would be Boston’s worst month. So much for that theory: Boston raced to an 8-0 record before losing at Orlando on Sunday. Scary.

Is it too early to proclaim Boston as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference?

Peter Stringer, Celtics.com: If you ask the guys in green, they aren’t looking at records and streaks or getting caught up in thinking about May and June. They’re dialed in on what’s going on in the immediate future. Doc, Kevin, Ray and Paul remind the media on a daily basis that it’s a “process,” and they’re all on the same page in this respect. They know they got all of the offseason attention, and to that end, they realize that every night, at home or on the road, they can expect to get their opponent’s best shot. Most importantly, they’ve stressed that they haven’t won anything yet. So sure, the 8-0 start was satisfying here for the fans and media, but the locker room is only thinking about who’s next on the schedule.

Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com: A very skilled dodge of the question, Peter – just kidding. It’s early, but it’s not too early to say that Pete’s Celts are the team to beat in the East. Among the East clubs that most people thought would be contenders, only Detroit has looked decent so far. Cleveland has taken a step back and Chicago has been the league’s biggest disappointment. If the C’s aren’t the team to beat, I don’t know who is right now.

Cris Quintana, Hornets.com: The way Boston is playing would indicate yes… but in a seven-game series anything can happen. If the “Big Three” stay healthy, they have to be considered the frontrunners. Several teams in the East aren’t playing up to their standards, so my guess is that Boston and Detroit will both have something to say as to who will come out of the East.

Dennis Rogers, Hornets.com: Yes and no. Yes, because the team that just beat them, the Orlando Magic, needs to also be mentioned when you are talking about the teams to beat in the East. No, because they have been plowing over their competition and the “Big Three” have meshed incredibly well in the early going. In a seven-game series, it is hard to imagine a better team in the East than Boston.

HORNETS OFF TO BEST START IN FRANCHISE HISTORY.

Chris Paul has been mentioned as an MVP candidate. David West already has a 40-point game. Peja Stojakovic broke the franchise record with 10 three-pointers in a single game. Tyson Chandler has continued to put up double-doubles prior to his hyperextended knee injury Monday. All in all, it’s been a fantastic month of November for New Orleans.

What’s been the biggest surprise of the first three weeks of the season for New Orleans?

Dennis Rogers, Hornets.com
: The biggest surprise would have to be how well the team has played on the road. A 6-1 record is the second-best road mark in the NBA. Last season, they didn’t capture their sixth road win until Jan. 10! Playoff teams can win on the road and that is what the Hornets are proving in the early going.

Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com: I’m with you on that one, D Rog. The Hornets have quality wins at Denver, New Jersey and the Lakers. Last year’s club went 15-26 on the road and couldn’t hold on to several seemingly comfortable fourth-quarter leads. But having two shooters in Peja and Morris Peterson alongside Chris Paul should make New Orleans a much more formidable road team, with better options at crunch time.

Cris Quintana, Hornets.com: I agree that we’ve played really well on the road this season. I also think that we’ve been finishing games well (i.e. New Jersey and Memphis) and the fact that we’ve beaten teams that we should beat, have played a big part to our great start.

Peter Stringer, Celtics.com: Peja stands out to me... 48 percent from behind the arc? Looks like his back problems are behind him, at least from the box scores (I need to catch up on my NBA League Pass). But man, the Hornets might be in the NBA’s toughest division. When you’ve got the Spurs, Rockets and Mavericks all in the same division, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

ANOTHER EPISODE OF “AS THE KNICKS TURN.”

After learning that he would be demoted to the second string prior to a game at Phoenix last week, New York guard Stephon Marbury took a flight back to the East Coast, leaving the team briefly. After being fined, Marbury rejoined the Knicks but came off the bench prior to being re-inserted as a starter Tuesday. The Knicks had lost seven straight games and were 2-8 entering Wednesday’s game at Detroit.

What will it take for one of the NBA’s marquee franchises to turn it around in Gotham?

Peter Stringer, Celtics.com: Stephon always keeps things interesting. Whether it’s his wacky offseason interviews or his recent imbroglio with Isiah and the Knicks, it’s hard to tell what’s going on inside Starbury’s head. One song you won’t find on his iPod? Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind. I don’t think this one ends well...

Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com: It seems like a good place to start would be to stop disregarding many of the commonly-held beliefs about the importance of chemistry. New York has too many players with duplicated skills, instead of guys who complement each other. The Knicks have a bunch of offensive-minded players and not enough distributors at point guard. They need more players like David Lee, who provides hustle and intangibles and doesn’t need the ball to contribute.

Dennis Rogers, Hornets.com: They have to figure out their guard situation; they have too many. They need to stick to whomever whether it be Marbury, Nate Robinson, Mardy Collins, Quentin Richardson, Fred Jones or Jamal Crawford. Once they can figure out their guard rotation, they can figure out if it is going to work. With Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph down low, the Knicks aren’t that bad of a team.

Cris Quintana, Hornets.com: Clean house… for years the Knicks have had a number of recognizable “names” who should be contributing much more than they have been. Most of the players on their roster are one-dimensional, in that they are scorers, so they struggle to play team basketball. After the whole Stephon Marbury episode, clearly the players are not on the same page.

EARLY SURPRISE: BOBCATS START 6-4.

The June trade for Jason Richardson created some optimism in Charlotte, but after the team lost reserves Adam Morrison and Sean May to season-ending injuries, most NBA prognosticators didn’t believe the Bobcats were a playoff contender. With Richardson averaging 25.0 points over the past week, Charlotte has moved over .500, one of only four teams in the East with a winning record through Monday’s games.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being “start printing playoff tickets,” what are the Bobcats’ chances of reaching the postseason for the first time?

Peter Stringer, Celtics.com: I’d say design them (the playoff tickets) in Illustrator but hold off on sending the EPS to the printer for now. The Celtics are in Charlotte on Saturday (after hosting the Lakers on Friday) so we’ll see what the Bobcats bring to the table.

Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com: 3. Charlotte has put together an encouraging start, but people probably won’t be sold on the Bobcats until they’re still around .500 at least a couple months into the season. Some of the other teams in the East that have been mediocre or worse so far won’t stay that way (I’m looking at you, Chicago, Miami, New Jersey, Toronto and Cleveland). The Bobcats have a great future, but I think lack of depth is eventually going to make it difficult for them to stay in the race.

Dennis Rogers, Hornets.com: 4. Get back to me after the 50-game mark if Emeka Okafor stays healthy.

Cris Quintana, Hornets.com: 5. I wouldn’t start printing playoff tickets just yet. They’ve put together a nice nucleus of young players. Felton is a quality pg (my fantasy pg) and then you have two guys in Jason Richardson and Gerald Wallace, who are both extremely athletic and find a way to get the ball in the basket. I agree with Dennis, their key is going to be if Okafor can stay healthy.

QUIETLY, HIGH-POWERED NUGGETS ROLLING.

Denver players talked boldly of winning 55 to 60 games this season, but started 2-3. The Nuggets racked up six consecutive wins since behind a few dominant performances by Allen Iverson. Denver leads the league in scoring at 109.3 points per game.

Is Denver poised to overtake rival Utah in the Northwest Division this season?

Dennis Rogers, Hornets.com: They have the tools to do it. Iverson has been distributing the ball and scoring, Carmelo can score at will and Marcus Camby is down low grabbing every rebound and blocking shots. Denver ended the regular season strong last season and has picked up this season. They are a legit threat for Utah.

Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com: That’s a tough call, but I’m leaning toward no. Denver was very impressive during the late stretch when the Nuggets finally got everyone back after all of the injuries and suspensions, but I’m still going to give a slight nod to Utah. The Jazz seem to have better chemistry than the Nuggets, partly based on their guys’ better-defined roles. Plus, Andrei Kirilenko looks rejunevated after a very frustrating 2006-07.

Cris Quintana, Hornets.com: I’m going to stick with Utah as the top team in that division, behind star guard Deron Williams. I like what Denver is doing though. Keeping guys injury-free (Camby and Martin) will be critical to their success. Not only are they a legitimate contender in their division, but they should be considered a threat in the Western Conference as well.

Peter Stringer, Celtics.com: The Nuggets certainly didn’t impress anyone in Boston when they got blown off the Red Auerbach Parquet here in the second week of the season, but five wins in a row has certainly opened my eyes. Denver’s got weapons and looks to be a better defensive squad than the Jazz, but I think Utah has much more depth.



Five Observations: Jazz 99, Hornets 71

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

New Orleans was thoroughly outplayed in the second half Friday, getting doubled up on the scoreboard 55-28 by Utah. The hosts turned a narrow one-point halftime edge into a runaway victory. The Jazz led just 44-43 at intermission, before shooting 60 percent from the field in the third quarter and outscoring the Hornets 31-21 in that period. Utah then limited New Orleans to a mere seven fourth-quarter points.

“You’ve got to give Utah a lot of credit – they’re going to play (tough) defense,” Byron Scott said when asked whether New Orleans’ sputtering second half was a result of the Jazz’s D or his squad’s poor offensive play. “We didn’t get the ball moving the way we should have. We had some good looks, but we missed them.”

New Orleans (9-5) dropped its third straight game after the 9-2 start and the first of a two-game Western Conference trip. The Hornets are back in action at 9:30 p.m. Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Here are five observations from the 28-point loss at EnergySolutions Arena:

1) Poorest offensive performance of season leads to Utah runaway.
You knew going in that winning at Utah was going to require efficient play at both ends of the floor by the Hornets, but they experienced an extremely frustrating night offensively, to say the least. New Orleans missed its first 10 three-point attempts and did not connect from downtown until Peja Stojakovic made a trey late in the third quarter. No. 2 in the NBA in three-point accuracy entering Friday, the Hornets finished 1-for-16 there. Overall, New Orleans shot just 34 percent and scored a season-low 71 points. Their previous low was 84 in the win at New Jersey. Other than David West’s 7-for-15, each of the team’s key performers fared poorly shooting-wise.

2) Transition game yields little production.
Two nights after Scott suggested that he may scrap plans to emphasize trying to push the ball and a running attack, the Hornets continued their recent trend of rarely fast-breaking. Give Utah credit for getting back well defensively and holding Chris Paul to six assists (New Orleans had only 14 as a team). Somehow, the Hornets are going to have to figure out a way to get more easy baskets so that the offense doesn’t have to work hard for every bucket in halfcourt sets.

3) CP3 wins individual battle of rising third-year point guards, but DWill gets decisive W.
By now we’re used to the Paul-Deron Williams matchup getting a lot of hype, but in this game, it really didn’t factor much into the outcome. Paul (15 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals) held the upper hand statistically over Williams (12 points, 7 assists, 3 rebounds, 0 steals), partly because the Jazz guard was saddled with foul trouble and played only 20 minutes. Williams’ lightly-regarded backups did an excellent job with the first-stringer on the bench, though – both Jason Hart (11 points) and Ronnie Price (12 points) were key factors in Utah’s big second half. Hart is known as a defensive stopper and Price is an athletic sparkplug, but both repeatedly made perimeter shots to extend the Utah lead.

4) Back at full strength again.
Tyson Chandler returned to the floor after missing one game with a hyperextended right knee, giving Scott a full complement of players for the first time since last Friday's OT victory at Memphis. The Hornets are now 8-3 with their anticipated 2007-08 starting lineup in place (they went 1-1 without Paul recently and lost to Indiana without Chandler). Chandler was his usual active self Friday, finishing with 12 points and seven rebounds in 31 minutes of PT. With Chandler back, Hilton Armstrong and Melvin Ely saw reduced minutes, at 9:19 and 6:54, respectively.

5) Hornets need more from bench.
New Orleans’ reserves were outscored 35-22 by Utah’s subs, a stat that was more one-sided prior to the last few minutes of mop-up time. The Hornets’ second string has not shot well during the three-game losing streak and is putting too much pressure on the starters to perform at a high level. The bench went just 7-for-24 (29 percent) in Friday’s game.