Saturday, April 19, 2008

Paul and Hornets draw first blood

NEW ORLEANS – The Mavericks wanted to come out swinging in Game 1 and connected … for a half. Chris Paul and the Hornets regrouped, hit back and drew first blood Saturday night.

New Orleans took a 1-0 series lead with a 104-92 victory before a raucous 17,446 fans at New Orleans Arena. The best-of-7 first-round slugfest resumes back on the same floor Tuesday.

The Mavs will spend the two days trying to figure out a way to slow down Paul, who single-handedly put the Hornets on his back in the second half, and regain their offensive poise. The MVP candidate scored 35 – 24 coming after the break – as New Orleans wiped out a 12-point deficit against a Mavericks team that lost its way.

“It’s one game,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “The playoffs are a game of adjustment. I thought we played a decent first half defensively, moved the ball some and got our running game going. In the second half you’ve got to look at what they did. Paul was phenomenal.”

For the second year in a row, the Mavs opened the postseason with a loss. Unlike last year against Golden State, homecourt advantage wasn’t lost after 48 minutes. A Game 2 victory would steal homecourt before the series shifts to American Airlines Center.

“We know this is going to be a long, grind-it-out series and fortunately there is a Game 2,” Mavs coach Avery Johnson said.

The Mavs were in position to get the Hornets’ first-ever Western Conference playoff game through two quarters. While the first half wasn’t particularly clean, the visitors did the better job of mucking it up. Displaying a physical edge to complement their playoff experience, the underdogs took a 12-point lead into the break. The Hornets struggled to get anyone going not named Paul.

Read the rest of this story and get more coverage of Game 1 at

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