Five Observations: Hornets 98, Clippers 89

Sunday, November 25, 2007
By: Jim Eichenhofer,

New Orleans ended its three-game losing streak, while adding to its impressive early-season road success, keeping the Los Angeles Clippers at arm’s length throughout the second half in the Staples Center. The Hornets (10-5) improved to 7-2 in away games and have now won on the home floor of three opponents that currently sport .500 or better records (Denver and both L.A. teams).

Here are five observations from Saturday’s nine-point win in Los Angeles:

1) Peja loves L.A.
The way Peja Stojakovic has shot the ball in the Hornets’ two trips to the City of Angels, he probably wishes the club played at the Staples Center more than the four scheduled times this season. Stojakovic poured in a team-best 22 points Saturday and went 3-for-4 on treys, following up his 36-point, 10-trifecta outing in the same building against the Lakers on Nov. 6.

The 6-foot-10 forward is now 13-for-17 on three-pointers (76 percent) in Los Angeles and 60-for-160 (38 percent) everywhere else. Stojakovic may want to circle Jan. 2 and April 11 on his calendar, the Hornets’ remaining visits to Los Angeles during the 2007-08 campaign.Stojakovic was asked by Clippers TV after the game about his current comfort level after missing the final 69 games of last season with a back injury. “I’m looking for consistency,” Stojakovic responded. “It’s getting better each and every day. My comfort level is not there yet, but I’m trying.”

2) David West, “road warrior.”
That was Clippers TV analyst Michael Smith’s description of the Hornets’ power forward, who has been fantastic in the club’s nine road games so far. West tallied 18 points Saturday and is averaging 21.1 points in away contests, compared to 16.5 at the New Orleans Arena. The Xavier (Ohio) product already has a career-high 40-point game at Memphis and racked up 34 at Portland. Of the many reasons behind New Orleans’ excellent start on the road, West is among the most important.

3) Reserves quietly help spark victory.
The overall numbers didn’t jump off the stat sheet, but if you watched this game, you had to take notice of the play of Melvin Ely, Bobby Jackson and Jannero Pargo. During the second quarter, the backups helped spark a 36-24 advantage that turned a five-point deficit into a 55-48 halftime lead. Ely was crafty in the low post again and is enjoying his best stretch of the young season. He provided nine points on 4-of-7 shooting; Jackson had eight points and four rebounds; Pargo chipped in a nice four-point, four-assist game in just 12 minutes.

4) One of the best 5-for-15 shooting games you’ll see.
That was Chris Paul’s stat line from the field Saturday, but it was a bit misleading in the overall scheme of things, because he made arguably the most critical hoop of the game. With New Orleans leading by just five points, Paul drained a baseline 12-footer, a back-breaking shot that put the Hornets in front 96-89 with 41 seconds remaining. The 6-foot point guard also bailed out the offense during a couple second-half possessions by dropping in difficult mid-range floaters from the middle of the lane.

5) Hornets get defensive.
The Clippers were held to 40 percent field-goal shooting and 41 points in the second half, as the Hornets put the clamps down defensively. Even when Los Angeles scored, it often came off a contested jump shot. After a big 14-point first half, Clippers center Chris Kaman was held to four points after intermission and went scoreless in the fourth quarter. New Orleans committed to double-teaming Kaman and forcing the Clippers to move the ball, a strategy that appeared to pay off nicely.


Items from the postgame "Hornets OT" call-in show, which airs after every game on the Hornets Radio Network:

Frequent “Hornets OT’ postgame radio show caller Mike phoned in to praise Ely after the Fresno State product’s fifth consecutive strong game off the bench. Ely finished with nine points and four rebounds in 22 minutes of action.

“He comes in and brings his hard hat and lunch pail, punches his time card and does his thing,” Mike said of the workmanlike Ely. “We needed somebody to come off the bench and spark the team. Between him and Bobby Jackson tonight, I think they did a pretty good job of that.”

Will from New Orleans commented that the Hornets appear to be a much more effective team when they drive the ball to the basket, instead of settling for perimeter shots. On Wednesday, the Hornets raised concern among Byron Scott and the coaching staff by attempting 30 three-pointers out of 87 field-goal attempts vs. Indiana, far too big of a chunk of the team’s offensive attack. In Saturday’s victory, they took a more reasonable 15 treys and made eight of them. Interestingly, New Orleans is now 9-0 when it makes more three-pointers than its opponent this season, but that doesn’t mean the Hornets should fire up threes at will and stop attacking the basket.

Off the Court: Tyson Chandler

What does seventh-year Hornets center Tyson Chandler like to do when he’s not playing basketball? sat down with the California native to find out more about his interests away from the game of hoops.

Favorite type of music: “I used to listen to a lot of hip-hop, but now I’m into more R&B. I’ve got a little daughter [1-year-old Sacha-Marie] running around the house now, so I’ve got to soften the mood a little bit.” [grins]

Can’t miss TV show: Monday Night Football.

Reality TV thoughts: “I can’t say anything bad about it, because I watch it all the time. But I think those shows are all fixed. It’s not reality.” [laughs]

Favorite movie of all time: The first Matrix.

Time spent online per day: “About 30 minutes.”

Favorite non-sports Web site: iTunes.

Football or baseball? “Football, because there is a lot more action.”

What he’d be doing if he weren’t an NBA player: “I’d be a pro fisherman.”

Favorite athletes as a kid: Jerry Rice, Deion Sanders. “My favorite NFL team was the 49ers.”

Best friend on another NBA team: New York center Eddy Curry.

First job: “I worked at an appliance store cleaning stoves and refrigerators. It was a used-appliances store, so it was a pretty gritty job. It was tough.”