Big Easy Buzz Blog - December 5, 2007

Pistons Another Big Home Test for Hornets

Wednesday, December 5, 2007
By: Jim Eichenhofer,
It will be interesting to see how the Hornets follow up their best win of the 2007-08 season, when they host the Detroit Pistons at 7 p.m. tonight. For a closer look at the Pistons, check out our Rival Report, featuring writer Keith Langlois. Also see updates on each of the 12 Hornets players who've regularly been on the active roster in our Courtside Live blog.FYI, we've tweaked the in-game blog during the Dallas game somewhat to allow us to provide more frequent updates from our seats on press row at the New Orleans Arena.

Five Observations: Pistons 91, Hornets 76

New Orleans hung around for most of the first three quarters, but Detroit used a 25-16 fourth quarter to power past the Hornets (12-7). New Orleans had its two-game winning streak snapped after being held under 80 points for just the second time this season.

Morris Peterson left the game early in the third quarter with a strained back muscle and did not return. Byron Scott said after the game that he was awaiting word from trainer Terry Kofler on the extent of the injury.
Five observations from the 15-point defeat at the New Orleans Arena:

1) Hornets fall short in second straight matchup vs. NBA elite.
Scott told his players before the game that the Detroit tilt was a prime opportunity to show that the Hornets’ OT win vs. Dallas on the weekend was no fluke, and that New Orleans can start to be mentioned in the same breath with some of the elite teams. Ultimately, the Hornets didn’t come close to approaching their play from the Mavs game.

“I said we can prove to everybody that we belong,” Scott said. “Obviously we showed that we don’t belong yet. But we’re still very young and we still have a long way to go. We still have to learn what it takes to win in this league on a consistent basis. Are we on the right track? Yes we are. We’re probably even a little bit ahead of schedule. But we still have a long way to go.”

2) Detroit “goes to work,” outhustles Hornets.
The blue-collar Pistons have had one of the most appropriate slogans in the NBA, “Goin’ To Work.” On Wednesday they again lived up to their reputation as one of the most hard-nosed, aggressive teams in the league. Detroit’s stingy defense held New Orleans to just 34 second-half points. The Pistons also tracked down several long rebounds in the latter half that led to second-chance hoops. Detroit had 13 offensive boards.
“In the second half, they beat us to every loose ball,” Scott said. “They got every long rebound. Once you give a team like that another chance, they’re going to hurt you that way. They outworked us. Defensively they were more aggressive, tougher and stronger.”

3) Hornets seeking bench spark.
Scott altered his bench rotation Wednesday, leading to a DNP for Rasual Butler for the first time this season. Meanwhile, Hilton Armstrong came in only for the final minute of the game.
“You get to the point where the starters are going to be logging a lot of minutes,” Scott said, “because our bench isn’t productive right now. I’ve got to find a couple guys off our bench who can come in and spell (the starters) for a minute or two. Right now, we don’t have anyone coming in off the bench that is playing particularly well. The one thing I want them to understand is that the minutes aren’t guaranteed to anybody. You’ve got to earn them.”

As a group, the reserves went 4-for-18 from the field and were outscored by their Pistons counterparts by a 21-13 margin.

4) Meaningful PT for Julian Wright.
The No. 13 overall pick in the 2007 draft came within one minute of his career-high in playing time (11 minutes) and was on the floor more than he had been in a game since Nov. 7. Before you think that he accumulated much of those in garbage time, he logged seven minutes in the first half and was on the floor in the fourth period when the outcome was still hanging in the balance. Wright was relatively quiet, but Scott said during his postgame talk that he expects to keep Wright in the mix for the next few games. Wright essentially received the minutes that previously have gone to Butler.

5) Chris Paul, David West shooting struggles typify rough night for New Orleans offense.
New Orleans’ top two scorers combined to go 7-for-29 from the floor on a night when the Hornets shot only 34.7 percent overall. West’s nine points represented the first time all season he’s been held to single-digit scoring.

“Our offense just didn’t show up,” Scott said. “We couldn’t make a shot. Detroit is a very good defensive team,” Scott said. “You’ve got to give them a lot of credit.”

On the plus side, Tyson Chandler turned in another strong offensive game, with 17 points. He also pulled down a season-high 22 rebounds, one shy of his career-best.