Hornets-Mavericks: Monday news wrap

Published: April 21, 2008

Another day, another seven billion articles and blog posts about the Hornets-Mavs series. Here's me helping you get caught up.

First off, Henry Abbott has his own Hornets-Mavs bullets over at ESPN's TrueHoop this morning. Among Henry's own observations…

  • I feel I have noticed a trend of Dirk Nowitzki shoving shooters in the back during release. Watch and tell me if you see it, too.

Over at Bleacher Report, Paul Peszko wonders if Chris Paul's impressive performance on Saturday caused Kobe Bryant to force shots in last night's Game 1 between the Lakers and Nuggets…

  • Could Chris Paul's performance actually have gotten Kobe Bryant to throw up shot after shot in Sunday's game against the Nuggets? With his front court playing so well together, there was no need to take more than half that number of shots.

    "I just made myself more of a decoy and then allow my teammates to open up the game for me," Bryant said.

    Was he telling the truth or simply trying to cover his real motivation? Being the competitor that he is, did Bryant feel the need to surpass Chris Paul's performance with a an unequaled one of his own

Some quotes from Brett Martel's latest AP report

  • "We understand we have to play better because (the Mavs) didn’t play their best game," Paul continued. "It's only one game we won. We've still got to win three more."
  • "We're confident we can win on the road, we just have to go out and do it," Nowitzki said. "Obviously, the team that loses always has to go back and look at some stuff and adjust… The playoffs is a game of adjustments and hopefully this is still going to be a long series. So we still have a chance to get that split there. We've just got to win the game."

A great read for Hornets fans by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. An excerpt…

  • This was a historic night for basketball in New Orleans, for a young team that has dared to make a run before its time, before basketball even knew it was on the make. More than once, Scott has told his players how much these Hornets remind him of his first playoff team in New Jersey. They were too young to advance in the playoffs, they were told, and yet they made it all the way to the NBA Finals in 2002.

    "That team made me believe even more that playoff experience isn’t that important," Scott said

David Moore of the Dallas Morning News talks about eating po' boys and how the Hornets play the Mavs on defense

  • The defensive principles New Orleans will follow in this series are no secret. The Hornets want to be physical with Dirk Nowitzki, limit his shot attempts and make him work on the defensive end. The goal is to wear him out as the game wears on.

    Next is Josh Howard. New Orleans let Howard get away from them in the first half and get Peja Stojakovic in foul trouble. That turned in the second half when the Mavericks forward scored two points and were 0-of-8 from the field.

    Jason Terry is another defensive key. The Hornets took the ball out of his hands on the pick-and-roll and didn't let him turn the corner.

Dirk's thoughts on the double-technical he shared with David West in the fourth quarter…

  • "It's a cop-out call," he said. "If two guys get into each other, it's always a double technical. That's the nature of the league. They try to take all the physical plays and confrontations out of it. I guess the double technical is their way of doing it."

Eddie Sefko's observations in the Dallas Morning News…

  • In three of their last seven playoff series, the Mavericks have lost Game 1 and come back to win the series.

    Also, the Mavericks point out that this is not the same team that lost three games at Golden State in the first round last season and three games at Miami in the 2006 NBA Finals.

    But it is the same team that went 1-8 against teams .500 or better after the Feb. 19 trade for Jason Kidd.

Jeff Caplan addresses the open looks the Hornets have allowed Jason Kidd

  • "I don't think we did anything differently," Paul said. "When we played against those guys Wednesday in Dallas, I don't think we really did our game plan, which was rotate, and we gave [Kidd] a lot of wide-open shots, and you can't do that.

    "He's a great player, and he can shoot the ball when he's left open. We still have to do a lot better rotating to him."

    Kidd played the entire third quarter and didn't attempt a shot. He scored seven points in the first half, but didn't make another field goal until hitting a 3-pointer with 2:38 remaining and the damage already done.

    "I have to be more aggressive," Kidd said. "Make or miss, I have to be more aggressive.

While the Hornets practiced from 9 to 11a.m. on Sunday morning, Avery Johnson afforded his troops a little more rest

  • Contrary to the negative view, the Dallas Mavericks did not begin practice at 1:30 p.m. Sunday — three hours later than normal — because it gave them more time to lick their wounds.

    They flew in late from New Orleans after their 104-92 Game 1 loss Saturday, and coach Avery Johnson simply gave them a few extra hours to sleep. There is no doubt, however, that they are in the process of recovery.

Also from the above article, AJ's thoughts on slowing Chris Paul…

  • "We got to make it tougher on him," Johnson said of Paul. "We have to make it tougher on his drives. We have to make it tougher on him in every way. On the offensive end we have to do a better job of attacking him and trying to keep the heat on him there. It was just one game; we can't let him have several games like that in the series."

    And so what's the plan?

    "We have a couple of ideas," Johnson said. "Whatever we do, we have to do it effectively and efficiently. He's a heck of a player. He's been doing it to everybody all year. We have some ideas. We're not going to give away our scouting report. But we just have to make him work on both ends."

In the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Randy Galloway shows appreciation for the good character of the Hornets players, and notices just how addicted New Orleans has gotten to the team…

  • As a local cabbie, Sammy, was telling me Saturday: "It's damn basketball… Can you believe that? Lived here all my life, rode out of Katrina, lost everything at the house, but as long as we still had the Saints, I could survive it.

    "I didn't care anything about basketball. But now… I can't get enough of it. This is a football town that is suddenly alive and well again because the tourists are finally coming back, and, at the moment, because this damn basketball team of ours has lifted up the city."

    Sammy's final words:

    "It's a miracle."

William C. Rhoden of the New York Times says it's about time Byron Scott be given credit for his coaching. He even addresses the common argument that Scott's assistant in New Jersey (Eddie Jordan, now head coach of the Wizards) was mostly responsible for the Nets' back-to-back trips to the Finals…

  • Unless I missed something, Jordan hasn’t taken the Wizards to the N.B.A. finals, either. The farther away Scott gets from New Jersey, the better he begins to look. It’s beyond X’s and Os. Scott is about will.

John Hollinger blogs about the adjustments the Hornets and Mavs will make in Game 2…

  • So just how much should coaches worry about what the other team might do differently, anyway?

    "About 40 percent," said Hornets coach Byron Scott. "I worry [more] about us still doing some of the things that we talk about doing a little better. And I know it will be a chess match, I know he'll make some adjustments. So right now it's like I moved my pawn and he's going to make his move and we'll see what happens."

A great article from Peter Finney in today's Times-Picayune, who tells us about a guy who has been there for all but one Hornets game since 1988: team trainer Terry Kofler. Here's Kofler's thoughts on Chris Paul…

  • "Chris came here with all the right kind of family values," Kofler said. "It wasn't long before he helped create a genuine family atmosphere on the team — at home and one the road. Remember you're together as a group for more than six months, so this kind of camaraderie can pay off. You've got guys on this team who pass the ball to one another and then go bowling together."

Also from the Times-Picayune, John Reid quotes Tyson Chandler

  • "I don't think there is necessarily a message that we're trying to send, we're just out there playing hard," Chandler said. "It was physical on both ends. I don't think anything was intentional out there."

Mike Fisher of Dallas Basketball was glad that Nowitzki didn't retaliate after David West's "cheek-tap", but apparently most Mavs fans feel differently…

  • Dirk should've capped off a G1 loss in New Orleans in Game 1 by not turning the other cheek to David West. He should have retaliated in some form. And if that retaliation triggered a series-determining ejection for The UberMan? So what? As long as Dirk made sure to at one point get West in a headlock and bloodied his face, and as long as photographers captured the moment, we got ourselves a Real Live American – er, German/American – he-RO!

Over at AOL's Fanhouse, Brett Edwards has video of the whole Nowitzki-West confrontation, and some thoughts on the matter…

  • If you look at the expression on West's face and the words coming out of his mouth, it doesn't look like he's being aggressive towards Dirk or trying to disrespect him. It looks to me like he was explaining to Dirk the reason for the foul, and that maybe Dirk was catching him in the face inadvertently, so West was letting him know to watch it, but in a somewhat calm and polite manner. That's why Dirk didn't respond.

Matt Benson of MavsCentral.com checks in with some Game 1 thoughts. Among them…

  • Dallas is now 5-11 in Game 1's in the Mark Cuban-era. Of those 10 losses prior to this year, they have come back to win five of those series. So it is not like they haven't been down 0-1 before and come back to win.

And I'm done. Back to work.

[UPDATE] Had to add this one: video of Nowitzki's flop off the push from Chandler.

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