Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 83, Celtics 81

Friday, December 31, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Hornets (19-14), Celtics (24-7)

It was over when... Chris Paul rebounded Ray Allen’s errant three-point attempt and dribbled out the final 3 seconds, sealing an outstanding road victory for New Orleans. The Hornets snapped a seven-game road losing streak and handed the Celtics just their second loss in Boston of the 2010-11 season. “It’s a good win for us,” Paul said. “We know (Boston) is a team that is really hampered by injuries, but a team like us, we needed this win regardless.”

Hornets MVP: Paul turned in a vintage performance, accumulating 20 points, five rebounds, 11 assists and six steals, numbers that were even more impressive when you factor in the game’s slow pace that made it tougher to compile individual stats. Paul and David West returned to the game earlier than expected less than two minutes into the fourth quarter and eventually steadied New Orleans after a 16-0 Boston run. “We settled down,” Paul said of the visitors regaining their composure late in the game. “This is a tough place to play. It got loud – I felt like I was in college at one point. The guys couldn’t hear what plays I was calling.”

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Willie Green made his return to action after the tragic loss of his sister and cousin in a Michigan automobile accident. In Green’s first game since Dec. 19, Green scored five points, including a big three-pointer in the second half. Overall, the bench went just a combined 3-for-15 from the field and had to be replaced by the starters quickly in the fourth quarter when Boston quickly changed the momentum of the game.

The buzz on… the Hornets’ pace of play. When Monty Williams took over as New Orleans’ head coach this summer, many wondered whether the Hornets would become more or less of a transition team offensively. Williams comes from a San Antonio and Portland coaching background, two franchises that have often been among the slowest-paced teams in the entire NBA. Although virtually every NBA coach says he wants his team to push the ball more in an effort to get easy baskets, through the first 33 games of the regular season, the Hornets have moved toward the Spurs’ and Trail Blazers’ turtle-like pace. Entering Friday’s NBA action, New Orleans ranked 26th in pace factor, a statistic that gauges the tempo of each squad’s games. Although Boston’s recent teams have also been known for their methodical, grind-it-out style, the Celtics are actually a more up-tempo team than the Hornets, ranking 22nd in pace factor.

By comparison, New Orleans ranked 15th in pace factor last season, the first time during the Chris Paul era that the Hornets have been higher than 21st in the league – but also the first time during that timeframe that Byron Scott was not the head coach. During the team’s record-breaking 2007-08 campaign, New Orleans was 26th in pace.

Blog question of the night: The Hornets have had several impressive victories, with many coming during the 11-1 start. Was this the biggest win of the season?