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Game 5 Aftermath: Wednesday news wrap
The Hornets closed out the Mavericks in Game 5 last night, and will advance to face the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of the Playoffs. There's an absolute mountain-load of stuff out there on the web today. I probably missed half of it, but this should keep you busy. Enjoy.
We'll start with Chris Paul's words after the game, courtesy of Howard Beck in the New York Times…
- "Everything that we have done is all about this city," Paul said. "It's about rebuilding the city of New Orleans."
Great article from John DeShazier in today's Times-Picayune. A sampling…
- Now, everyone should be on notice.
The Hornets weren't satisfied with a record-setting regular season, though they could have gotten away with playing well, putting up a gallant fight and bowing out in the first round. They weren't satisfied with taking care of business at home, though that's all they had to do to advance. Instead, they managed to take Game 4 of the series in Dallas, their first win there since 1998.
"We weren't overconfident, but we have a totally different mentality," point guard Chris Paul said. "We expect to win. We expect a lot from ourselves. We're trying to set a new standard here for our organization."
From Les East's recap in the Baton Rouge Advocate…
- David West's inside-outside scoring, Tyson Chandler's rebounding and dunking, Jannero Pargo's marksmanship, Julian Wright's exuberance, Chris Paul's virtuosity, and a swarming defense did in the Mavericks.
"It was a total team effort and it's been that way all season," West said. "Everybody was prepared to do what they had to do. We came into this post-season expecting to win. A lot of people may be surprised at how this thing turned out, but we're not too surprised."
- Paul finished with the fifth triple-double of his career and the second this season, getting 24 points, 15 assists, and 11 rebounds.
"Congratulations to a young Nate Archibald," [Avery] Johnson said in comparing Paul to the Basketball Hall of Famer, who played point guard for 13 seasons in the NBA. "He is a special player. He is relentless. He is strong. He is intelligent. He has a bright future. He pretty much dominated us in this series."
From the Elias box over at ESPN.com's Hornets page…
- Chris Paul capped a historic playoff debut series with a triple double in the Hornets' 99-94 win, eliminating the Mavericks from the NBA's postseason tournament. Paul averaged 12.0 assists in the five-game series, the second-highest mark in NBA history by a player in his first postseason series. The record is 13.0, by Kevin Johnson in 1989.
Some excerpts from Teddy Kider's article on Byron Scott being name Coach of the Year…
- With several of his players standing in the back of the room for a Tuesday morning news conference, Scott dismissed the individuality of the Red Auerbach Trophy. He spoke of his players, whom he led to a franchise-record 56 regular-season victories and a No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
"I love them dearly," Scott said. "There's not a coach in this business right now that has a better job than I do."
- "The best thing that probably ever happened to me was being hired by Mr. Shinn and having an owner that believed in me and gave me another opportunity. From an individual standpoint, I knew what I was capable of doing from a head-coaching standpoint. I never lost faith in myself. I just knew I needed another chance at it and another shot, and I knew I would get it. And I just kind of took advantage of it."
From a poster over at the Hornets Report boards, who had his eyes peeled before Game 5 tipped…
- Did you notice…When [Byron Scott] recieved his coach of the year award all the Mavericks showed alot of class and stopped to clap except…..Kidd turned his back and bent over to take off his warm ups off, he stayed with his back to the ceremony until the exact moment it was over…Totally Classless.
For the record, Howard Beck tells it differently in that New York Times article…
- It was a day of contrasts and simmering conflict. Scott was given the coach of the year trophy while Kidd — who was blamed for getting Scott fired in New Jersey — politely clapped 50 feet away.
"He's well deserved for that award," Kidd had said earlier. "He probably should have got it when he was in New Jersey."
Tyson Chandler blogged about Byron yesterday…
- Coach Scott approaches the game and he approaches the players in a different manner than the other coaches I've had. First of all, you can tell that he believes in you and what you can accomplish on the basketball court when he's talking to you. He's very personable and very aware of what's going on with you as a basketball player and even in your life in general.
And then on top of that, he also knows how to push a player. So, you take the combination of him taking the time to understand his players individually and how to push them on the basketball court, and then he knows how to form all those individuals into a team.
Jim Eichenhofer has his usual great game recap over at Hornets.com, commenting on the performance of every Hornet in the series. Some snippets…
- Morris Peterson: His overall averages don’t blow you away in the series (7.2 points, 2.0 rebounds), but considering he only played 19 minutes per game, he was an efficient player. Mo Pete shot 57.7 percent from the floor, which led the Hornets.
- Peja Stojakovic: Played his customary role to a T, connecting on 60.7 percent of his three-point attempts (17-for-28). He continues to provide back-breaking perimeter shots and demonstrate why New Orleans was willing to make such a major investment in him as a free agent during summer 2006.
- Bonzi Wells: His impact decreased as the series progressed, culminating with him playing 10 minutes in Game 5. Part of that was due to matchups. It will be interesting to see how he’s utilized in a series vs. San Antonio. Two years ago as a member of the Kings, Wells destroyed the Spurs in a first-round series, averaging 23.2 points and 12.0 rebounds, while shooting a scorching 61 percent from the field.
Another great recap as expected from At the Hive. Regarding David West…
- The Mavericks had no answer again for West, who hit 10 of 17 shots on the way to 25 points. He let the game come to him, deftly passing out of the post to set up teammates when he couldn’t get a look himself. West has developed so much as a player this year that his isolation plays have come to be just as reliable as Chris Paul’s. If there were any lingering doubts as to the validity of West’s All-Star selection, you need look no further than this series.
Sticking with the blogs for a second, Hornets Hype had a premonition…
- Honestly, I saw this happening. Not, you understand, as a definite, but as a probability I could see unfolding. "Seriously?" I thought. "If the Hornets win this series, it won't be in 7." I think, realistically, this series was over after Game One. Yeah, yeah, yeah, "you say that now," but think about it. It was how the team came out after the half, down 2 points. And as they played, as Chris Paul dismantled the Mavs and took the game over, it was like watching a team realize they belong. And once you've got that, you don't let it go.
And to steal a quote I just saw on Hornets Hype, here's one from SLAM's Sam Rubenstein…
- Has there ever been a franchise that's been a complete afterthought, draft one player and then all of a sudden they are a powerhouse. Chris Paul is (insert over the top praise). The Hornets season has been a smashing success. No matter what happens from here on out. The worst thing that can happen to them is they learn hard lessons. And that's not even a bad thing.
Over at ESPN.com, Marc Stein sees changes ahead for the Mavericks, starting with the head coach…
- ESPN.com reported after Dallas' victory over New Orleans in the regular-season finale April 16 that Avery's job would be thrust into serious peril if the Mavs did not at least find a way out of the first round. Sources close to the situation have since disclosed that Mavericks owner Mark Cuban actually considered dismissing Johnson before the playoffs, specifically after Cuban and Johnson engaged in an emotional argument after a March 18 home loss to the Lakers.
Good quotes from AJ courtesy of Jeff Duncan's article in the Times-Picayune…
- "You gotta take the good with the bad; it's called life," said Johnson after the Mavericks' 99-94 loss. "There are a lot of highs and lows with coaching, but the highs outweigh the lows. I've been through much worse. There are a lot of people in bad shape, but I'm not one of 'em."
- "More than anything, I just feel bad that our season is over for our men," said Johnson.
Mike Fisher is waving Avery goodbye…
- To those who read this space, it is not a newsflash that Avery is tip-toeing toward the unemployment line. We've spent the year chronicling how his approach has devolved from inspirational preacher/teacher to obnoxious Napoleonic know-it-all, from General Johnson to Captain Queeg.
Also an interesting bit about Nowitzki in that article…
- He defended the club's decision to trade for Kidd, which cost the team promising young point guard Devin Harris.
"We went for it," he said. "We went for one of the greatest point guards to ever play this game, a Hall of Famer. I don't know, for some reason we never got clicking like we wanted to. Things, I don't think, were natural. We as a franchise went for it, and it didn't play out the way we wanted to. Sometimes you've got to take some risks in this business."
At WWL-TV, Bradley Handwerger writes about that oh-so important experience factor…
- Prior to New Orleans first-round series against Dallas, the general consensus among national basketball writers was that the Hornets' lack of postseason experience would bring the franchise down.
Never mind. New Orleans put the Mavericks out to pasture four games to one, moving into the Western Conference semifinals.
"You've got to expect that," Tyson Chandler said. "The media just goes off of what they've seen and predictions of the past. We don't go off of that. We go off of the heart and desire of the guy sitting next to you in the locker room."
In a separate article, Handwerger raves about Jannero Pargo's performance in the series…
- Simply put, Pargo was the Hornets' sixth man of the series even before it started.
He had five points in the series-opening 104-92 win. He scored 10 in the 127-103 victory. He had a team-high 30 in New Orleans' 97-87 loss. And then he had those 17 big points Tuesday night.
"He carried us a lot during this series and made some big plays for us," Morris Peterson said. "He did a great job. I'd have to say he was our unsung hero in this series. A lot of times, when the shot clock was winding down or things weren't going well, he came in and gave us a spark and got us over the hump."
In the Advocate, Joseph Schiefelbein writes about Pargo's performance in the fourth quarter last night…
- Pargo hit a 3-pointer, while falling back, as the shot clock was about to expire. He got out and ran for a layup after Julian Wright made a steal. And, cutting through the lane to get a pass from David West, he flipped that crazy layup over Dirk Nowitzki for New Orleans' biggest lead, 84-67, with 7:00 remaining.
"Jannero. I wasn't worried about Jannero from the start," Hornets center Tyson Chandler said. "Jannero is a gamer. He's going to show up. He's going to hit big buckets. He doesn't mind taking the big shot. You have to love a guy like that."
As for guys stepping for the Mavs? Well, that didn't really happen. More from Fisher over at DallasBasketball.com…
- Dallas once again was completely overmatched by virtually every New Orleans person, place and thing. In short, Dirk had no Robins; Kidd finished with 14 points and nine assists, Jason Terry had 13, Josh Howard 12, Stackhouse 11 points and Bass 11. All OK… but none of it second-banana production; each of those contenders to be "the second-best Mav’" would’ve been "the seventh-best Hornet" had they changed uniforms.
Some pieces from Eddie Sefko's article in the Dallas Morning News…
- The Mavericks' disjointed nature was never more evident than in this series. The Hornets, as they had all series, took their chances Tuesday with the Mavericks heaving 3-pointers. Nearly a third of their shots, 26, were from beyond the arc.
- "I don't want to take anything away from New Orleans," Dirk Nowitzki said. "I think they're a phenomenal team. I think what really lost it for us was Game 1. They had some jitters in the first half. We should have taken advantage of that more and come out somehow with the win.
"And we can't lose Game 4 at home, no matter what happens. To me, that Game 4 was a killer."
- The easiest target when dishing out accountability for the Mavericks' first-round playoff loss is the off-court distractions.
Crazy radio interviews about marijuana and the opposing team's coach, a players-only practice that didn't set well with Avery Johnson, not to mention the unsettled state of the team after the Jason Kidd trade, all had the potential to derail the Mavericks.
Yeah, speaking of that marijuana thing, it's emerged that Josh Howard was the reason Avery Johnson canceled practice on Monday. Jeff Caplan tells the story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram…
- A late-night party to celebrate Josh Howard’s 28th birthday after Sunday's Game 4 loss turned Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson livid and led him to cancel Monday's practice, two sources confirmed.
Johnson, who stressed no partying during the series, was informed before Monday's scheduled practice that Howard handed out fliers to teammates in the locker room before Game 4, inviting them to his party at a Dallas nightclub.
Wow! I felt sorry for Howard before — anyone can have a bad series and he just made a bad judgment going public with the marijuana thing — but there's no excusing this. What a dumbass.
Howard also got some expected jeers during the game last night. The following courtesy of Jeff Caplan in the Star-Telegram…
- As he stood by the scorer's table, awaiting the start of the second half, one of the few moments when the arena is relatively quiet, a fan within earshot barraged Howard with all the expected lines such as, "After tonight you can smoke all the weed you want." Howard eventually looked up at the heckler and muttered something under his breath. Howard can only hope the smoke clears by next season.
David Moore quotes the man, the legend, the one and only Jerry Stackhouse…
- "No matter what happens or what changes are made, it's been a great situation for me the last four years and a great situation for Avery the last four years and Jet [Terry] coming out of Atlanta," Stackhouse said. "For the last four years, it's been a great situation for everybody involved.
"If this is the end, you can't do anything but say we had our chance. We had our opportunity."
Actually, maybe Stack ain't so bad. Chris Paul even seems to get along with the guy, despite their confrontations in Game 5. From Tim McMahon over at the DMN Mavs blog…
- Stack said there was certainly nothing personal about the barking with Paul. They're both from North Carolina, and Stack has known Paul since he was a pre-teen. They're such good friends that CP3 loaned Stack three Gs to go to the casino last week.
Stack isn't holding a grudge, but he isn't giving Paul his cash back, either.
"He can count that out," Stack said.
Also in the DMN, Kevin Sherrington wonders how the Mavericks can shake up the team…
- Can they trade Kidd? Only at the deadline to a team looking to create some cap space when his $21 million comes off the books after next season.
Can they deal Josh Howard? His value isn't as tainted as you might think, despite the reefer madness. But it's certainly not what it was, either.
Can they move anyone? Jason Terry has some value. Brandon Bass is a keeper. Dirk Nowitzki isn't going anywhere.
Everybody else? Attention, K-mart shoppers.
J.A. Adande of ESPN.com thinks Nowitzki should be going somewhere…
- It's not going to happen with Dirk Nowitzki, so they might as well trade him. True, NBA teams rarely get better when they trade a superstar. But they could get some good young players, and with Dirk's salary gone and Kidd's contract up next year, the Mavericks could position themselves to make a run at a superstar such as LeBron James or Dwyane Wade in the big free agency summer of 2010.
- One person close to Johnson believes the coach felt increasingly isolated as the season unfolded. He doesn't know if Johnson has received the support he would like from Cuban and general manager Donnie Nelson.
- And then there was the final ironic twist of the knife in Dallas' collective back. Here was their team, getting blown out at the end, and lo and freaking behold, Devean George scores 11 points in the final 5:56 to bring the Mavericks almost within reach of making the series 3-2. Of course, they came up short anyway, but you can't blame George for that — he tried to save them from this sad ending a few months back.
At NOLA.com, David Gladow wonders how the people of New Orleans will choose between music and basketball…
- Fans of both music and basketball in New Orleans may have to make a difficult choice this coming Saturday, as the New Orleans Hornets' second-round Game 1 matchup with the San Antonio Spurs is tentatively scheduled for Saturday … smack dab in the middle of the biggest music festival of the year, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
No announcement has been made as to tipoff time as of yet, but a quick look at the team's official schedule on NBA.com reveals a Saturday, May 3 start date for the Hornets' series with San Antonio … which is likely to be in direct conflict with some of the festival's bigger acts.
(We'll have more details on the Hornets-Spurs schedule here as soon as we hear it.)
From Teddy Kider's notebook in the T-P…
- When asked before Tuesday's game whether his coaching staff already had started preparing for a second-round matchup with the San Antonio Spurs, Scott said "of course" with a laugh.
Scott added that he and assistant coach Darrell Walker had started watching games "a couple of days ago."
Peter Finney manages to look back and ahead at the same time…
- Scott thought back to what he believed might have been the pivotal moment for a basketball team that defied the experts.
"The day in January (Jan. 26) we went into San Antonio and beat the Spurs (102-78)," he said, "probably gave our guys the kind of confidence that would serve us well the rest of the year. Under the circumstances, we played close to a perfect game. It sort of made us feel, at that point in the season, that, yes, we belonged." It was the worst home defeat Duncan had ever been involved in.
It was a game in which David West made 15 of 19 shots on his way to 32 points. A game in which Peja Stojakovic had 22 points and Chris Paul had 17 points and 11 assists.
My favorite read today comes from With Leather…
- The Hornets are now what the Suns used to be. Not exactly, of course, but close enough for a casual fan like me: a fast-moving unselfish team featuring an exciting point guard, high-flying/athletic big men, and a couple shooters to make teams pay for double teams and slow rotations. Chris Paul notched a triple-double in closing the door on the Mavs last night; he's basically Steve Nash, if Steve Nash rebounded, played defense, closed out games, and was stronger and faster and better in every way. I can't wait for CP3 to make Tony Parker look like the twee Frenchpuss he is when their second-round series starts Saturday.
In conclusion, Tony Parker's wife is a self-absorbed bitch. Go Hornets.
A couple of quick-hitters…
- Ball Don't Lie: 57% of 40,000 people think Kidd's hit on Pargo was the hardest foul of the Playoffs so far.
- Lots of good pics from Game 5 over at Sports Radio 1280. Hat tip to the HR boards.
And finally, happy birthday to Brandon Bass, who turns 23 today. That kid's future is looking bright. Well, not his immediate future, because that involves no more Playoff games.
[UPDATE] This just in: Avery Johnson has been fired.