SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Hornets coach Byron Scott didn't like the question. He liked his answer even less.
Life was hard on the Hornets when four of their top six players struggled simultaneously with injuries.
Our question: How hard would life have been had the Hornets not acquired free agent guard Devin Brown?
"Oh, man,” said Scott, shaking his head. "I don't even want to think about it. We would have been struggling big-time.”
Our query was posed about 90 minutes before Chris Paul returned to the court after missing 17 games. At that moment, the Hornets had won 19 games.
Scott rattled some numbers through his head. "We might be at 14 wins (without Brown),” Scott surmised. "Who knows?”
Without Brown, the Hornets might have entered Monday night's game at Sacramento with a 16-31 record. Instead they entered 21-26 and just three games out of the eighth and final playoff spot.
For one player to be the difference between winning and losing in five games would be a significant total for one season. In Scott's estimation, Brown had made that amount of difference in his first 20 games.
Not bad for a guy who waited 2½ months for the phone to ring inside his San Antonio home.
"He's proven he definitely can play and definitely belongs in the NBA,” Hornets guard Bobby Jackson said. "As a player, I know it (stinks) when you know you can play, but nobody calls you.”
Brown was simply caught in a numbers game before the season began.
Brown had signed as a free agent with the Golden State Warriors, but a 7:30 a.m. wake-up call the day after media day informed Brown he had been put on the waiver wire.