Scott cut loose as Hornets continue early-season search for answers
Byron Scott was fired as New Orleans coach following the team's 3-6 start
Players had expressed displeasure with rotations and schemes Scott was using
Star point guard Chris Paul said the Hornets' bad start has been difficult to endure
The writing was on the wall while the Hornets were in Los Angeles a few days ago for back-to-back games against the Lakers and Clippers. The dry-erase board in the visitors' locker room had almost become like the cut list for a high school basketball team, with players looking at it to see what new lineup Byron Scott would use.
Such is the atmosphere of a struggling team searching for answers. Scott ended up changing his starting five twice in two games, benching Morris Peterson and Julian Wright for Devin Brown and Peja Stojakovic.
"That's probably not the end of it," Scott said at the time of his tinkering. "There's probably [another] change or two that I could make."
But any further changes this season won't be coming from Scott. The Hornets' latest attempt to jump-start their season came Thursday when they fired Scott and replaced him with general manager Jeff Bower. The move -- which included the return of Scott's predecessor, Tim Floyd, to the franchise as an assistant coach -- was made one day after the Hornets dropped to 3-6 with a 124-104 loss at Phoenix.
Scott's job security was called into question after the Hornets were routed by the Nuggets in a first-round playoff series last season. While Scott survived for the start of the 2009-10 season, the last year of his contract, the philosophical differences between the sixth-year coach and many of his veteran players had become apparent.
"The style of ball we're playing isn't working," said David West, who almost laughed after last Sunday's loss to the Lakers when discussing the Hornets' adjustments during games. "We're trying to do things the same way and expecting different results, and obviously that's not going to work. We have to hope that we can make some changes and try to right the ship. We're not playing team basketball and we're not doing things that a team should do. We're doing things as individuals. We're trying to do the same things the same way and expecting different results, and that's not going to happen."
Aside from being "stagnant," as West described the team at times, the Hornets have been almost nonexistent on the defensive end, giving up 105 points a game, eighth worst in the league, and rank last in rebounding.
"They have to get to the point where they trust each other, and right now we don't trust each other as a team," Scott said before the firing. "We're just 15 individuals going out there and playing basketball, and until we get to the point where we trust each other and communicate with each other on the floor, we're going to struggle."
No one in the Hornets' locker room has been as frustrated as Chris Paul. The star point guard has tried to keep his emotions under wraps, but he admitted after the game against the Lakers that the Hornets needed to make some serious changes.
"Teams know what to expect from us now," he said. "Every season you've got to come back with something different and improve a little bit and we haven't really done that."
Paul has seemingly worked hard to ease tensions in the locker room, talking with disgruntled players and working with one of his backups, 2009 first-round pick Darren Collison, who has played only 44 minutes this season. He would often stand up and almost shadow Scott along the sideline, coaching the rookie point guard whenever he was on the court.
With Scott gone and Bower in charge, Collison should see the court more in just one of many changes the Hornets figure to try.
"We're a team that's a work in progress," Paul said. "I don't know what we have to do, but I know we have to get better. We need to fix this. I don't even know what to say anymore. This is the toughest thing I've had to endure in a while. Even in my first two years in Oklahoma [when the team played many home games there], we did pretty well and kept getting better. It can only get better from here. It can't get any worse."
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