Tuesday News Wrap

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Published: November 3, 2009

Chris Sheridan, ESPN.com:

Paul is not a happy man with his team now 1-3, and here’s why.

“When we talk right now, me, coach [Byron Scott] and [general manager] Jeff Bower, it’s all about what can we do with the guys we have,” Paul said. “I mean, we have guys that are capable of doing anything anyone else does in this league. We’ve just got to find it.

“Every team has an identity, a style of play they have. We have to find out if we’re going to be a fast team, are we going to be a slow-down team, are we going to run a set every time? We just have to find out what our identity is.”

They also have to figure out how to play better defense, because any team that allows 117 points to the New York Knicks simply cannot be considered among the league’s elite or near-elite, no matter how far they’ve come over the past two seasons.

Back then, “We knew going in every night what this guy would do or this guy would do, and right now we’ve got such a different team, so many new guys, we haven’t found that yet,” Paul said.

Frank Isola, New York Daily News:

D’Antoni got the start he wanted: the Knicks were leading 16-6 after not having a lead of more than four points in their first three games. The Knicks led by as many as 12 but Paul began looking for his shot and he helped New Orleans take an 81-77 lead into the fourth. But Byron Scott rested Paul for the first five minutes of the period as Harrington scored seven of the Knicks’ first 12. The Knicks were leading 92-87 when Paul drained a three but New Orleans couldn’t make a serious run, with the Knicks spending the fourth quarter at the free throw line.

Through three quarters, New Orleans had attempted 10 free throws and the Knicks six. But with five minutes left, the Knicks had already taken eight free throws in the quarter while the Hornets couldn’t even draw a single foul. The Knicks weren’t called for a foul in the period until there was 1:50 to play.

John Reid, New Orleans Times-Picayune:

“We got to get used to winning on the road,” Hornets Coach Byron Scott said. “I don’t know if we have the confidence now. We had a nice lead going into the fourth, and we gave up the points. Instead of tightening up on the defensive end, it seemed like we loosened up and they pretty much got everything they wanted.”…

“We have some things to work on, but it’s still early enough to get everything corrected,” said center Emeka Okafor, who scored 24 points but was held to two points in the fourth quarter.

It appeared at times in the fourth quarter that Paul was the only assertive Hornets player in the game. On several possessions, too often Paul’s teammates lacked movement. He took advantage of open shots along the perimeter and used his quickness and darting moves to run past the Knicks’ Chris Duhon, a former Salmen High School standout, for drives to the basket.

Charley Rosen, Fox Sports:

Did the Hornets do anything well on defense?

They didn’t get abused whenever they went under high screen-and-rolls, yielding a mere five points in so doing.

Overall, the Hornets displayed as much togetherness as a lunchtime pickup team at the YMCA.

Perhaps everybody concerned will get reacquainted over the course of the next 78 games. Perhaps West’s dead legs will revive. Perhaps CP3’s greatly improved jumper — he was 7-for-11 from 15 feet and beyond — and pinpoint passwork will lift the ball club out of its current doldrums.

Perhaps, but probably not.

Ken Berger, CBSSports.com:

On one hand, Paul says things will be fine — “It’s a long season,” he said — and in his next breath he laments that the Hornets are a team without a style. That’s code for “team with a stubborn coach.” Scott wants a rugged, defense-obsessed, insanely conditioned team. He wants this all the time, with no exceptions. But if a week goes by, and then a month, and it’s not working, he’ll have to try something else or he will lose the team…

“It’s tough,” Paul said. “I don’t know the last time we were under .500, let alone 1-3. My whole thing is, we can learn and try to jell but we can win at the same time. We’ve got to find a way to do that. … I know we have 15 willing guys in this locker room who know how to play this game, who can compete, and who are pros. So whatever we have to do to find the rhythm of this team, we’ve got to do it.”

Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports:

The owner runs the Hornets like a mom-and-pop operation, with his son-in-law and son in high-ranking jobs, with the most bare-boned front office and scouting staffs in the NBA. The Hornets have plans for a new practice facility, but currently play in a dumpy community center best suited for the bird and reptile shows that cover most of its calendar. It speaks to Paul’s character, his loyalty, that he signed a three-year extension with New Orleans in 2008…

Shinn is a farce, forever insisting that his moral compass brought the franchise back from exile in Oklahoma City, but truth be told he never wanted to return. The NBA pushed him into New Orleans, understanding it would’ve been a PR nightmare to abandon the post-Katrina city. That’s Shinn, the ultimate front-runner. He now takes bows for the Hornets’ popularity, but it’s laughable…

When asked how difficult mediocrity could get for him this season, asked how he would ever stand for it, Paul said, “Let me say this: I want to win.”

His eyes were wide now, and he wanted his point understood. “I … want … to … win. Whatever it takes me to do, I’m going to find a way.”

At The Hive:

The New Orleans Hornets are awful at defense. Absolutely, horrifically putrid. There are times when the viewer cannot tell if they are attempting to play man or zone, if Chris Paul is supposed to be guarding Larry Hughes by design or mistake. Watching the Hornets chase the ball around on passes would be analogous to watching Adrian Peterson play keep away with a baby.

A lot of this is clearly due to the disconnect between David West and Emeka Okafor. West was never the league’s best defender to begin with, but he played very well in tandem with Tyson Chandler. He realized which negative aspects of his defense Chandler could cover, and he played to his strengths. With Okafor, that learning curve has begun anew. It will take time for the two of them to sort it out. This is where the optimist’s take is probably right.

Marc Stein, ESPN.com:

The NBA is reviewing events during and after Sunday’s game between the Boston Celtics and New Orleans Hornets for possible sanctions after tensions ran high all night between star guards Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul.

Via his Twitter feed Monday, Paul said: “… [Just] to clear this up I never came close to approaching the Celts locker room last [night]. Not sure where that’s coming from. Also me [and Celtics assistant coach Tom] Thibodeau never got in a shouting match. We talked. … [Too] much respect for him, crazy how it’s twisted.”

Hornets Hype:

Chris Paul wasn’t exchanging words with Tom Thibodeau the other night because he was pissed at Rondo. He was probably trying to smuggle him on the freaking plane.

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