Hornets-Mavericks: Friday news wrap

Game 3 of Hornets-Mavs tips tonight at 7p.m. Central in Dallas. Here's the latest news, opinions and talk from around the web.

To start, here's what Jerry Stackhouse had to say on the radio on Wednesday…

  • "Chris [Paul] is such a great guy, I think he's been able to kind of deal with Byron Scott. I don't think Byron Scott is the best coach. I don't think he's the best guy to deal with — you know what I'm saying? — from some things that I've heard from other players and just some dealings that I had with him earlier in the season.

    "I was about ready to kick his ass — you know what I'm saying? He was sitting on the sideline and we just got into a little conversation or something and he was going to tell me, you know, 'Talk to me when you get a ring.' I was like, I told that fool, 'If I played with Magic and Worthy and Kareem I'd have a ring, too. So, you know, he's a sucker in my book, but that's a whole other story."

Let me save my response to that for a separate blog post, coming soon. 

In the Dallas Morning News, David Moore talks more about the Hornets decade-long drought in Dallas, and quotes Tyson Chandler…

  • The Hornets haven't won a game here since the team was in Charlotte and the Mavericks played in Reunion Arena. Two of the 13 consecutive losses came this season.

    "The only game I count is the game early in the season," Chandler said of a mid-December loss. "That was also a different basketball team. I don't count the last game of the season. They had a lot more to play for than we did, and I don't think we went in there with the focus that we have now.

    "The game earlier in the season, I thought we had a chance to win, but we weren't at the level we are now. We had not matured as a basketball club. They took advantage of us in certain areas."

Eddie Sefko quotes Jason Terry ahead of Game 3…

  • "We get this win, it's a new series. We haven't shown up in this series yet. We all know that. But it's going to be crazy here."

And from a different article, Sefko quotes David West

  • "We're going there to win," forward David West said. "That's the bottom line. There is no rule that says we have to give them a game or that says they have to win because they're home."

Also from the last link, Sefko thinks the Mavs might reach deep into their bench for Game 3…

  • If Johnson wants to go for shock value in his adjustments, maybe J.J. Barea might be a consideration in looking for somebody to chase Chris Paul.

    Barea did well when playing against Paul when both were on junior teams for Puerto Rico and the U.S. in international competition.

    "I'd love to try," Barea said. "But he's tough."

In the Dallas Morning News, Kevin Sherrington looks for some possible explanations for Josh Howard's struggles

  • He's also suffered recently from close losses, including his college coach, Skip Prosser. Enduring life's inevitable sorrows is difficult enough with people to lean on. Howard's best friends on the club were Marquis Daniels and Devin Harris, both long gone.

    And who replaced Harris? Kidd. A sure Hall-of-Famer. A marquee name. A teammate making twice Howard's paycheck.

In the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jeff Caplan asks Howard if his performance has been hindered by injuries…

  • Does your ankle hurt? No, Josh Howard answers. Your knee? Nope, he says. Your back is still sore then? No. No. No.

    Howard is growing weary of questions about various body parts that at one time or another have been bruised, sore or sprained. He insists he is 100 percent.

Jan Hubbard of the Star-Telegram is still defending Nowitzki's honor after that confrontation with David West in Game 1…

  • Let's make this clear: Dirk Nowitzki is not a fighter. Neither is Tim Duncan. David Robinson wasn't. Nor was Scottie Pippen, Dirk's idol. I can name a lot of players who were not fighters, but were still great players.

    And how do you measure toughness? If it's missing only 22 games in the past nine years, then Nowitzki qualifies. If toughness is returning from a painful ankle sprain in 11 days — a full week and a half before the most optimistic timeline — then Nowitzki qualifies.

In the Baton Rouge Advocate, Avery Johnson tells Les East that the series is far from over…

  • "The series doesn't really get good until somebody wins on the other's homecourt," Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. "If you look at our last couple of games here at home against some of the better teams in the league, we've fared pretty good.

    "We weren't so good for a while, but we fared pretty good and that's what we've got to do. Now, we can't bank on that. It's not going to happen unless we come out here and hit somebody."

Some quotes from John Reid's latest article in the Times-Picayune…

  • "When your back is against the wall like theirs, they're going to do anything they can to win the game, so you have to suspect that Game 3 is going to be a lot more physical," Hornets Coach Byron Scott said. "When you read their comments, a lot of it is about them being aggressive and more physical. If you even listen to (TNT analyst) Charles Barkley and those guys in the studio, they're saying they got to get Chris and they have to do this. So you have to suspect Game 3 is going to be more physical."
  • "I just think we've got to really do a better job of being much more physical with him (Paul) in our traps and physical with him on his drives," Johnson said… "We've got to do a better job of trying to deny him the ball."

Also in today's T-P, Jeff Duncan tells us of Byron Scott challenging Hilton Armstrong

  • During a film session Thursday, Scott challenged reserve center Hilton Armstrong to do a better job of guarding Mavericks reserve big man Brandon Bass.

    "I told him I don't know if you can guard him; maybe we have to double down (on Bass) when you are in the game," Scott said. "I hope I'm wrong. And I hope he does take what I said as an insult to him as far as going out and playing him a little bit better."

Jason Terry's thoughts on the Mavs being more physical…

  • "You still want to maintain your professionalism," said Jason Terry, who has never been known as an enforcer. "You're not trying to hurt the guy. But, I mean, if a guy goes for a layup, you don't want to give up layups. I mean, this is the playoffs. You've watched all the other series around the league, guys take hard fouls. We go to the rack, they're fouling us hard. So, word to the wise."

Apparently Avery Johnson might consider hiring a reporter as a motivational speaker for the Mavericks. According to Tim McMahon, this exchange took place yesterday…

  • AP reporter Jaime Aron: Is there something within players that just makes you step up and say, 'I'm just not going to let this guy beat me again'?

    Avery Johnson: You know what? I may hire you tomorrow. Then you can give them that speech, because that is so true.

Here's another hip hop track dedicated to the Hornets called We For Real, and it's credited to none other than Thomas Scott, son of Byron. Not bad at all.

Fictional comments from Isiah Thomas, courtesy of Bleacher Report…

  • "Look, Chris Paul is a very, very good basketball player,'' he continued, ''But if he was black he'd be just another guy. Chris Paul is only in the running for MVP because he's white. I hear all this ooh-ing and aah-ing about the things he does on the court, but black players do that all the time. If a white guy succeeds in basketball, it's because of his work ethic. If a black guy does it, it's 'God-given' or 'natural ability.'"

Over at Swarming the Ball, James Rees goes inside the mind of Avery Johnson

  • "Do I trap Paul full court and make him give up the ball? No that won't work because he knows to get rid of it early and then go get it back once the trapper retreats."

    "Do I hedge him on screens and force him away from the hoop on double teams? No that won't work because he's been taught to split the double and either score or find an angry Tyson Chandler streaking to the goal for a monster throwdown."

    I feel bad for Avery, really. He's up against a great point guard and an even greater coach.

Matt Benson of MavsCentral.com has some hope that his team will come back and win the series…

  • Dallas has come back to win two of the last three playoff series they have been in where they were 0-2 going into Game 3. The Mavericks came back to beat the Rockets, 4-3, during the 2005 playoffs and they came back to beat the Kings, 3-2, during the 2001 playoffs.

An excerpt from a nice David West interview over at FanHouse, conducted before the Playoffs began…

  • FH: This season has been a tremendous upswing for the Hornets. I'm sure for most of the season, just focusing on winning games and improving was a big emphasis. But with the consistency that you've shown, have you guys discussed the championship as a goal?
  • DW: We've talked about it, but we know you can't just say it. You have to internalize it and believe you can accomplish that goal. One, we got to the post season, but now we want to perform now that we're there. We want to approach each game with focus on the intent of winning.

Over at ESPN.com, there's a great, lengthy story about the influence the late Skip Prosser has had on Chris Paul and David West

  • Paul's MVP-caliber season has been perfectly timed for New Orleans. And while he might be awed by the byproducts of his stardom (hanging with MJ, his own shoe), he's certainly not shocked by his success. Part of that is because of the confidence he gained playing two years for Prosser at Wake Forest. "If it wasn't for Coach, neither D-West nor myself would be here," he says. "I'm forever grateful. I say a prayer before every game thanking God for putting Coach Prosser in my life."

John Delong calls Chris Paul "the best basketball player on the planet," and fits a bunch of quotes from Muggsy Bogues into the same article…

  • "Even the simple things, Chris does them so well that you don't have to run a play to get David West a certain shot. The shot's going to come within the offense by everyone moving and Chris creating the opportunity for other players. And, he understands the defense well enough now that he can react and knock down the shot, too. Dallas is doing some things right now, and he's finding the lanes and avenues where he can score the basketball, and he's doing it without forcing anything. That really is a credit to his I.Q. of the game of basketball."

An excerpt from the latest entry in Julian Wright's blog over at Hornets.com

  • Winning is fun. We've worked so hard and focused so much on getting to this point. Our team is a group of very laidback people, but we know when to be serious and go to work. It's a good dynamic because it makes the time that we spend together, whether it's practicing, playing or just hanging out, a lot of fun. It's good to have a little bit of a relaxed attitude in the playoffs because it tends to take the pressure off a little if you're having a good time when you're playing. 

And finally, a big thanks to everyone who voted for Hornets247 in Hardwood Paroxysm's NBA Blogger Season Awards. We won both the Reader's Choice Award and the Blogger's Choice Award for the Southwest Division, without even having to blackmail anybody. I hope they give trophies for these awards, too, because my prize for Sexiest Blogger in the Universe is looking mighty lonely on top of the fridge.

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