Archive for Monday, November 28, 2005

Hornets buzzing about young guards

November 28, 2005

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— David West understands the assumption. Following an 18-64 season, it's natural for teams to consider the New Orleans Hornets nothing more than a speed bump.

But with talented rookie Chris Paul, that premise could be changing.

"We figure when everybody sees us on the schedule they figure they have a win," West said. "This is a different set of guys, a different mind-set. We don't have anything to lose."

Displaced to Oklahoma City by Hurricane Katrina, the Hornets have won four of their last five.

The Hornets have a chance at a three-game winning streak - something they have not accomplished since Feb. 11-18, 2004, when New Orleans beat New York, Indiana and Washington - today when they face Golden State.

"I don't think they are playing above their heads," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "They listened to what everyone said, and they're using that as motivation."

The biggest change from last season is the addition of Paul, who left Wake Forest after his sophomore season and is leading rookies in points (17.0), assists (6.8), steals (2.0) and minutes (37.0).

He and fellow 20-year-old J.R. Smith form a dynamic backcourt. When the pair started the season opener, they became the youngest NBA starting backcourt on opening night since 1970.

One of Paul's biggest assets is his ability to break down defenses and create opportunities for his teammates.

"When (Paul) gets deep into the paint, guys have to collapse or else he's going to get layups," West said. "He's almost running downhill when he's coming at you, and you have to make an effort to corral him."

Scott doesn't mind heaping praise on his young guard. Before the season, he was blunt in his belief that Paul would be rookie of the year. So far, Paul is backing up that expectation.

"I really believe he has a better floor game, a better all-around game than any of the other guys drafted," Scott said.

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