Their mantra is " Passion, Purpose, Pride." But where was the passion when the Dallas Mavericks out rebounded them 54 to 38? Where was the purpose as they watched their two All-Stars, Chris Paul and David West leave it all on the floor-alone? And where was the pride when Jason Terry, Brandon Bass, and Josh Howard skipped and flexed around American Airlines Center like their substitute teacher never showed?
A trip from New Orleans to Dallas is nothing when you consider the Jet set life style of an NBA player. But when you get embarrassed like the Hornets did after last Friday's trouncing, 500 miles can seem like 5,000, and no catchy slogan can proffer any consolation.
Paul's monster performance and West's double-double were the only bright spots in an otherwise horrid 100-92 Hornets' loss. It was just another day at the office for West who had 20 points and 14 rebounds. But Paul was extraordinary, while his supporting cast was ordinary at best (Jason Terry's 18 pts. more than N.O.'s entire bench ).
The little guy from Wake Forrest tug-boated his team, almost single-handedly erasing what had once been a twenty-two point lead. Paul finished with 42 points 7, assists, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals. Unfortunately though, he and the Hornets ran out of steam down the stretch and failed to put the finishing touches on what was sure to be a memorable comeback.
But the story was rebounding, or more to the point, the Hornets inability or perhaps disinterest in doing so. The Mavericks dominated the boards with twenty offensive rebounds-more than double what the Hornets had. It was eerily similar to an earlier loss to Utah, in which the Hornets allowed the Jazz to score at will in the paint.
Now tied for the sixth seed in the Western Conference, the two teams met in New Orleans for the second half of a back-to-back mini-series. The Hornets were marginally out rebounded but it was nothing like what we had witnessed in Dallas.
With the exception of Dirk Nowitzki (29 pts.) the Hornets held Howard (15 pts.) , Terry (13 pts.), and Bass(13 pts.) in the low to mid teens in scoring. Out of context, that may not sound like an important stat, but its all the more impressive when you consider that in the two games prior to the Mavericks late season series with the Hornets, Dallas scored no less than 130.
In the end, thanks to Paul and West the Hornets were able to redeem themselves from a troubling loss and get back on the path toward a positive finish to what has been a turbulent season. The duo has performed heroically and have carried the Hornets all season. But I'm sure at one time or another they've had to have asked themselves the question that's in the back of everyone-else's minds-when they're wearied legs begin to buckle, who's going to carry them?