Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 97, Wizards 85

Tuesday, December 30, 2008
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

The Hornets (19-9) made sure they’d be riding a winning streak heading into their toughest road trip of the season, methodically overtaking the struggling Wizards (6-24). New Orleans was deadlocked at halftime and led by five through three quarters, but finally built a comfortable lead early in the final stanza. It certainly was not a thing of artistic beauty, but the Hornets will take it, their third straight win since the Christmas Day debacle in Orlando.

“This definitely wasn’t one of our better games, but it shows that we’re a pretty good team,” said Chris Paul, who registered his seventh career triple-double and third of 2008-09, with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 16 assists. “Even if we don’t play well, we can still win. The regular season is all about piling up wins and trying to find out what your team is made of.”

The Hornets will begin a four-game trek on Friday in Portland. The trip continues with stops at Denver, the Lakers and Utah.

“This will probably be our toughest trip, maybe since I’ve been in the league,” Paul said. “We’re going up against four playoff contenders.”

“Our intensity level has to go to a different height,” Byron Scott said of the trip. “Tonight I thought we did play a little bit to the level of the competition. We can’t afford to do that on this next road trip if we plan on winning any of these games, because these teams are good. I think everyone in the Western Conference knows that if you lose two or three in a row, you can drop pretty quickly.”

Scott said given the opposition, a 2-2 road trip would qualify as a “good” trip, while going 3-1 would be “great.”

Other news from the New Orleans Arena:
BUTLER LEADS IN SCORING
Rasual Butler played perhaps his best game of the season, tallying 21 points on just 11 field-goal attempts. He was 5-for-8 on three-pointers. Butler has been excellent during the current three-game win streak, going 20-for-31 (65 percent) from the field and averaging 16.3 points.
ROTATION CHANGE AT BACKUP 2
After a string of poor shooting performances, Devin Brown received a DNP. Morris Peterson, who did not appear in the Sunday game at Indiana, moved up into Scott’s rotation, but only played eight minutes and was scoreless.
Scott on his bench: "I'm real comfortable with (James) Posey. I think (Antonio Daniels) is playing really well for us. I'm struggling with Devin and Mo right now. One of those guys has got to give us something. Hilton (Armstrong) has done a solid job. So the rotation is eight or nine guys right now."

HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES
Rasual Butler

On hitting his shots: “CP did a great job of finding me. They tried to double-down on David (West) but when we got in our rotation on the clean swings, I was able to knock down some shots.”
On the game: “We approached this game as a must win, but we definitely almost lost this game. That’s a good basketball team over there. Mike James really filled it up. We didn’t want to go on this road trip following a loss.”
On the next two away games: “We have to play with a little more energy and a little bit more effort and we can’t just start that in the second quarter.”