Hornets.com postgame: Raptors 98, Hornets 92

Sunday, December 20, 2009
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

For the fourth time since early in the regular season, New Orleans had a chance to improve to .500 this afternoon in Canada. For the fourth straight time, the Hornets couldn’t find a way to get back to the break-even point. Poor shooting by New Orleans (12-14) was the biggest reason the visitors were swept this season by Toronto (13-17) in the two-game, head-to-head series.

The Hornets’ starting five combined to go just 27-for-71 from the field. Overall, New Orleans was 37-for-95 (38.9 percent) and 3-for-21 (14.3 percent) on three-pointers. Aside from the shooting difficulties, the Hornets watched lesser-known, athletic Raptors role players such as DeMar DeRozan (10 points), Amir Johnson (12 rebounds in 22 minutes) and Sonny Weems (7 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists in 30 minutes) turn in very productive games.

New Orleans missed an opportunity to win its third straight game, which would’ve given the Hornets a chance to move over .500 on Wednesday vs. a struggling and injury-riddled Golden State team in NOLA.

“Toronto made us work for every shot we got,” Hornets coach Jeff Bower said of the team’s offensive output. “They played a strong defensive game. We had a number of open looks that we like, but they didn’t go down today. I gave Toronto all the credit.”

Coming off his best individual statistic game of the season, Chris Paul’s number dropped significantly, with the Raptors focusing most of their efforts on the two-time All-Star point guard. Paul finished 3-for-13 from the field for 10 points.

“They did a very good job of keeping him bottled up,” Bower said. “We struggled getting a lot of things established inside. That’s why we shot a low percentage on the field.”

HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES (courtesy Toronto Raptors)
Jeff Bower

On the Raptors getting their hands on misses in the tail end of the game…
"They did. We had our chances to play with, where we came up with the ball underneath our basket, and would have been a big play if we converted into points. We weren’t able to come up with that one play today to get us over the hump, or to get us into a situation where we had a little bit of control. I thought Toronto played a strong game, and give them all the credit in the world."

Chris Paul
Thoughts on Toronto’s defence on you tonight…
They did a good job of moving with the ball. I give a lot of credit to (Andrea) Bargnani, Chris Bosh and those guys they were aggressive on the ball screens and never gave us a chance to get going.

Is this loss more difficult coming off the win in Denver?
Yes, this was a winnable game for us. We didn’t come out with any type of intensity, same story different night. We didn’t defend, all these things just keep on happening.

Toronto used a lot of pick-and rolls…
We had our issues with the pick-and roll. It is something that we have to get better at. Every team has to get better at something and I think that defence is a top priority for us.

David West
What happened down the stretch?
We had a couple of shots right there at point blank range that we needed. They were hurting us in terms of (Hedo) Turkoglu off the screen-and-roll in the middle and that just burned us the last couple of possessions.