Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Forecast: Tough week ahead for Hornets and why Byron Scott is a top notch coach

Column comes courtesy of the 'Ralpha Dog' and WWLTV.com:

On Sunday Chris Paul led the way with a triple double as the Hornets maintained their grip on the Western Conference lead.

During the Hornets resurgence Chris Paul, David West, and the rest of the players have been given almost all of the media attention.

No argument there. CP3 is a superstar right now. Not going to be, not could be - is.

But let’s not forget Byron Scott is a huge part of the Hornets’ story.

A few years ago I went to a Hornets media event and got to chat with Hornets executive and Hall of Famer Willis Reed and I asked him, “What’s the most important thing a head coach does?”

His answer was really simple yet made perfect sense.

“The coach needs to get his team play to hard every night. For ones that do, it’s worth five or six extra wins a year.”

If you don’t believe that watch the Denver Nuggets play one night. They are fighting for their playoff lives but just lost back to back games to Sacramento and Seattle.

Byron Scott has the Hornets playing hard every night.

Watching the game against Golden State Sunday there was a moment at the end of the third quarter that showed another thing that Byron Scott has that will likely mean he’ll be the coach of the Hornets a long time to come.

He and Chris Paul have trust in one another.

Paul usually sits at the beginning of the fourth quarter but wanted to keep playing.

ABC had Paul wired for sound and caught him begging Scott to let him play. Paul even told Scott he would let him know if he needed a break.

Byron Scott left him in and the Hornets won.

It shows a level of trust between a coach and his young star.

And a coach in the NBA needs to be believed in by the star on his team because if he’s not, the unemployment line will be calling his name.

Scott learned this in New Jersey when Jason Kidd pushed him out the door.

The whispers back then were Scott didn’t work hard enough and his assistant Eddie Jordan did most of the heavy lifting.

I’m not saying people were saying those things about Scott because he was black but how come when Larry Bird was coach of the Pacers and took them to the NBA Finals and he had assistant coaches Rick Carlisle and Dick Harter running his offense and defense he was hailed as an innovator but Scott hires a bright young guy to implement the Princeton offense and he’s ‘lazy’?

And for those who just think Scott was lucky in New Jersey to have Jason Kidd and now Chris Paul I ask you this: If Byron Scott had nothing to do with the Nets success how come they haven’t come close to the NBA Finals since he left?

Of course we know Byron Scott is a huge part of the Hornets success.

He has instilled the team with a defensive toughness they’ve lacked the past two years.

Scott deserves some love too.

As in ‘Coach of the Year’ type love.

Hornet’s week in review

An undefeated week highlighted by wins over the Magic and Warriors. I have to say that was so cool that the Miami Heat actually let season ticket holders play in an NBA game against the Hornets.

(You mean Chris Quinn is an actual NBA player? My bad. The Heat are embarrassing.)

Watching the Hornets basically toy with the Knicks I had to laugh as the Knicks play-by-play guys kept saying they didn’t think the Hornets were that good because the Knicks were in the game.

Guys, the Hornets only played really well for about a five-minute stretch in the fourth quarter and still scored 118 points. In fact I wonder if Byron Scott in pregame was like, “Tonight we play no defense. Consider it like a night off. We’ll just outscore them.”

The Knicks are so bad the Hornets coasted to a win by not even playing well for one of the four quarters.

The win over the Warriors was big because it likely was a stake to the heart of Golden State’s playoff chances.

Nice job by the fans booing Baron Davis every time he got the ball.

America needs to remember the Hornets have been gone two years and the fans still have issues to work out with BD.

Translation: We are bitter and no we aren’t over it yet.

Hornets this week

Tuesday: Host Utah Jazz

This game could be a possible second round playoff match-up for the Hornets.

The Jazz currently are fourth in the West. I’m not afraid of the Jazz as a playoff opponent and I think a road to the Western Conference Finals of the Nuggets and Jazz isn’t that daunting.

Wednesday: at Minnesota Timberwolves

This is a tricky spot for the Hornets. The second of back-to-back games this follows a possible hard fought game with the Jazz. And they might be looking ahead to Friday’s Laker game.

While everyone said the recent road trip was the hardest part of the Hornets’ closing schedule I thought this week was tougher. This game might tell us if I’m right.

Friday: At Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers will need this one and Kobe might put on a show plus Los Angeles plays the Clippers on Thursday which is like an extra day off.

>Saturday: At Sacramento

The Kings are still playing hard as proven by their win at Denver last week. In the East they’d have already clinched a playoff spot. True it doesn’t say much but the Hornets won’t be able to coast.

Ralph Malbrough is a Hornets fan living in Houston. He can be reached at ralphmalbrough@hotmail.com

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