by Clay A. Smith
Photograph by Jonathan Bachman
All-Star point guard Chris Paul returned to the Hornets but New Orleans still fell to the Boston Celtics 89-77. Just two days removed from an all time low %29.5 shooting performance against the Memphis Grizzlies who allow 99.2 points a game and nearly fifty percent shooting the Hornets squandered a golden opportunity in a game that was closer than the final score would indicate.
New Orleans and Boston were tied at the end of the third quarter, but a fourth quarter collapse was key in the Hornets' loss to the Celtics. Paul Pierce helped Boston spoil Chris Paul's return with 30 points. Paul finished with just five assists and was 6-15 with 13 points in New Orleans' second consecutive loss-their sixth in the past eight games.
Sure New Orleans has persevered through injuries, but the season's second half is expected to be challenging. Power forward David West, who averages almost twenty points a game, has already missed six games and without starting center Tyson Chandler's presence the Hornets have continued to struggle defensively.To add insult to injury, literally, Paul who is averaging 37.3 minutes a game is beginning to shown signs of wear.
All things considered though the Hornets aren't in bad shape.It may sound crazy but New Orleans is as healthy as they've been for a while despite the 7'1'' 235 lb hole that Chandler's absence creates. David West should be well rested-coming off of a one game suspension for his flagrant foul on Mike Miller in the Minnesota game and a brief stint on the I.R. And as for Paul, although visibly rusty in his return, he should be rejuvenated as well and ready to lead the 30-20 Hornets to a successful late-season run.
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