This time last year, the Hornets were battered, bruised and, at 24-27, just barely better than bad. Now, they're 34-15 and the third best team in the Western Conference. They have two All-Stars in Chris Paul and David West, and Byron Scott will coach the Western Conference All-Star team. Six more wins and the Hornets will surpass their win total from their best season in Oklahoma City. In a recent phone interview, coach Scott answered my biggest question — why did they wait until they returned to New Orleans to do this? Mayberry: Congratulations on being selected as coach of the West All-Stars. Scott: Thank you. I appreciate it Mayberry: OK, enough of the small talk. Why couldn't you all do this last year? Scott: (Laughter). Well, I could give you a few reasons. No. 1, we didn't have a healthy Peja Stojakovic. No. 2, Chris Paul missed 20-something games, and David West missed 30. I could go down the line. That's probably the biggest reasons. Mayberry: Why does this team still have doubters about it being legit? Scott: Probably because we haven't been there before. Everybody's probably saying, ‘This is still the early part of the season. Nobody's really figured us out. We're kind of sneaking up on people.' You're always going to have doubters. So that's something that we don't really worry about. Mayberry: How do you guard against satisfaction creeping in with all the accolades and prevent a second-half letdown? Scott: The No. 1 thing is just to bring up what happened the past two seasons. We can go back and show the record after the All-Star break the last couple of seasons and show how we kind of floundered toward the end. I think our past experience is the one thing that's going to help us focus on not doing those things again. Mayberry: Are there any players who didn't make the All-Star squad that you would have liked to see make the team? Scott: Tyson Chandler. Marcus Camby is another one who I thought was deserving. But other than that, it's always a couple of guys that don't make it in both conferences that feel that they got snubbed, but that's not the case. That's just the way it goes. Everybody can't make it. You're going to have more than 12 guys who have great seasons and do unbelievable things. But that's all you can take. It's probably about four or five guys who are very deserving that won't play on this year's All-Star team. Mayberry: Even though he's put up great numbers so far, were you shocked that David West got the nod? Scott: No, not really. I thought that what he had been doing and the games that he's had that I thought were very significant. That San Antonio game in San Antonio was big. So I'm not really shocked. I thought it was going to be between David and Josh Howard and a guy like Carlos Boozer. But I was very pleased that he was selected. Mayberry: Is Chris Paul the first-half MVP? Scott: I would say so. To me, right now the top three would be Chris, LeBron (James) and Kobe (Bryant). But I think what this team has done and where we've come from and what everybody expected, we've exceeded everybody's expectation. So I would have to say he's the frontrunner right now. Mayberry: Why doesn't Jeff Bower either get or accept more credit for the job he's done? Scott: I think Jeff is just one of those guys who likes being behind the scenes. He doesn't get the credit that he deserves because he has done a hell of a job. But he's not looking for credit. He's just looking to do his job and make this team the best team that it could possible be. He's not searching out accolades. That's one of the great things about J.B. He just wants to try to give me the ammunition that I need to try to be successful, and he just goes about it in a mild-mannered way.
The Hornets' Byron Scott will coach the Western Conference All-Stars on Feb. 17 in New Orleans. Associated press