This article as orginally published at http://www.insidehoops.com/chris-paul-interview-040208.shtml
When debating who should receive the 2007-08 NBA Most Valuable Player Award, it’s hard to have a discussion without mentioning New Orleans point guard Chris Paul. In just three years the Wake Forest product has turned the Hornets from a habitual loser to one of the league's best squads.
As the Hornets push toward the playoffs and battle for home court advantage in the tough Western Conference, every win matters. So when Paul led his Hornets to a tough road victory after being down by as much as 14 in the fourth quarter in Orlando against the Magic on Tuesday night, it wasn’t much of a surprise to those who see him on a regular basis.
Here’s what Paul, who had a bad shooting night but still finished with 19 points, four rebounds, 12 assists and two steals, told InsideHoops.com and other media outlets after the Hornets clinched the 98-97 come-from-behind victory.
Question: How much of difference does it make having multiple guys that can come through in the clutch and make the big shots?
Chris Paul: It makes a huge difference. We were in here talking about it earlier. I didn’t even know Peja [Stojakovic]was 2-for-11 tonight, it seemed like he made more shots than me. I was like 6-for-19 [tonight]. I told David West early in the game when shots weren’t falling we just realized this is one of those games where it ain’t about the percentages, we just have to grind it out and get the win and worry about that later. Guys just made plays when they needed to.
Question: Playing on the road against a good team in a hostile environment, how did you guys handle it?
CP: Man, we’re a team that’s been through it all you know what I mean? That’s something we were talking about earlier on this road trip. We got to other team’s practice facilities, we don’t have one ourselves. We’ve been in Oklahoma … I don’t know, not too much rattles us. We’ve been through just about every situation and I think that’s why when we’re on the road in tough situations that it doesn’t really bother us.
Question: You guys dominated the offensive boards tonight, talk about the play of the frontcourt guys tonight.
CP: When you miss so many shots you get a lot of chances at offensive rebounds. We shot the ball horrible tonight, but like I said it shows a lot of perseverance with our team and the fight and hustle we have to grind it out and get this win.
Question: You guys are flying under the radar in terms of national recognition, is that good thing?
CP: Man, it doesn’t even matter right now. We’ve got nine games left now and we don’t really pay attention to that stuff too much, we focus on the task at hand and take it one game at time. We do an outstanding job of staying focused and realizing how important each game is.
Question: This team has won a lot of tight games lately, is grace under pressure the best way to describe this team as of late?
CP: Yeah, we know who needs the ball where and we know where guys are going to be because we’re battle tested – or at least we feel like it right now – we don’t get rattled because we know everybody on the court can make a big play to win the game.
Question: Chris, you missed two free throws that could have put you guys up by three, but after the miss you came back and played tight defense and got the win. What were you thinking?
CP: I think my teammates knew how mad I was when I missed those. Being the leader of the team I always want the ball in that situation and I understand I’ve got to make those shots. But we knew we were still winning and if we came out and got a stop that would be in the past.