Big Easy Buzz Blog - February 1, 2010

Bower: Paul surgery likely, time out is indefinite

Monday, February 1, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer,
Saying the team medical staff is still in “fact-finding mode,” Jeff Bower told the New Orleans media this morning at shootaround that Hornets point guard Chris Paul will likely undergo surgery on his left knee. The amount of time the three-time All-Star will miss is uncertain and cannot be determined until a decision is made on how to proceed.

“We’re in the process of gathering information, as far as the next steps in dealing with Chris’ knee,” Bower said. “He has been evaluated and MRIs have been conducted (on Sunday) by our doctors. Those results are in the process of being viewed by several leading orthopedists around the country. After we receive their evaluations and consultations, then decisions for next steps will take place.

“It’s likely that there’s going to be a surgical procedure. But as I said, we’re in the fact-finding stages and gathering as much information as possible.”Bower stressed that Paul’s return should be described as “indefinite.”

“It’s probably best to (term his length of time out as) indefinite, because we don’t know,” he said. “We don’t know a timetable right now, nor do we know a procedure.”

The team expects to be able to make the decision within the next 1-2 days.

Bower was asked by reporters if the Hornets plan to sign another point guard, because with Paul’s injury – combined with the recent trades of Bobby Brown and Devin Brown – the Hornets have fewer options to use at the position.

Bower: “We have a number of options that we can look at. The majority of them are on our team. We’ll shift some minutes and rotations to take advantage of the current players we have. We’ll continue to watch that development. We have a lot of confidence in our players and their abilities, so we’ll move forward in that fashion. … We’ll look at everything, but our whole area of emphasis will be on who we have and what we need to do with this group. Injuries are a part of every team and every season. It’s our job to move on and make adjustments to fit our personnel.” postgame: Suns 109, Hornets 100

Two games into Chris Paul’s recent absence from the lineup, the Hornets are 1-1. For the season, New Orleans is 5-5 without the three-time All-Star point guard. Can the Hornets (26-22 overall) continue to play .500 basketball for the duration of time that CP3 is out? If so, will that be good enough to remain right in the thick of the Western Conference playoff chase?

We’re probably getting ahead of ourselves by asking those questions this soon after it was announced that Paul could miss multiple games due to a knee injury, but those are the ones many media members who cover the team were wondering prior to tonight’s defeat against Phoenix (29-21).

In a game Jeff Bower described as one of the Suns’ better performances of the season, they handed the Hornets consecutive home losses for the first time since mid-November. Phoenix built a lead of as many as 20 points, but New Orleans rallied all the way back to within 100-98 with 1:41 remaining. A huge three-point play and mid-range jumper by Grant Hill finally turned back the Hornets’ surge.

“It was just not enough against a team that was having a good night,” described Bower, whose team went 12-5 in January. “We have a little bit of an adjustment period to go through (with Paul sidelined). I think we saw that tonight. It’s something that will be short-lived I hope. We’ll work through it to continue the momentum that we’ve built.”

With Paul out of action, Darren Collison (16 points, 14 assists, 7-for-18 shooting) played 36 minutes. The balance of the point-guard duties were handled by Marcus Thornton (39 minutes, 25 points, 10-for-21 shooting) and James Posey. Bower said after the game that the Hornets do not have a signing in the works to add another point guard, but it could happen if the right move is available.

“Our plan right now is to continue with where we’re at,” Bower said. “James Posey’s return is a big help in that regard, as far as him being a handler to get us set up in certain (offensive sets). We like Marcus handling the ball some. The more experience they get, the better off they’re going to be. We understand there may be a learning curve for them to navigate. But for the last 30 games of the year, we’ll be better for it.

“But at the same time, we’re watching many circumstances. If something presents itself that can help us, we’ll take a look at it.”

From a big-picture standpoint, Bower said one of the team’s objectives is to “compete and give ourselves a chance to win the game in the game-deciding minutes. Phoenix made the game-deciding plays tonight. I don’t think we played as well as we played in most of our last several games.”

With few exceptions, New Orleans has been doing that of late. Tonight’s defeat was the first time the Hornets have lost a game in regulation since two weeks ago, when they were beaten by the Spurs on Martin Luther King Day.