Ochsner should look into possibly marketing this photo

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Chris Paul in pain

Photo by Jonathan Bachman

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So the New Orleans Hornets have lost Chris Paul to a groin strain for an indeterminate amount of time. He's listed as "doubtful" but it's really anybody's guess as to how long he'll be out until the Hornets medical staff gets a good look at him tomorrow. For now, Hornets players and fans have a lot to stew over.

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Mainly, the Hornets performance after Paul went down with his injury. The Hornets were outscored 42–17 by the Trailblazers after CP3 left the game on their way to losing their third straight game. This marks New Orleans' fifth-largest lead blown in a game and the first three-game losing streak since late Feburary last year. And you can bet Hornets fans will be doing a lot of second guessing of Byron Scott after he revealed that Paul had told him he had tweaked his groin but the two decided on keeping him in the game.

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"I just was hoping it would work itself out," Scott said. "My biggest fear was what happened, was that he was going to hurt it even worse. But also, you know, the other fear is that if you take him out with two minutes left in the third quarter then you probably wouldn't be able to bring him back in."

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To be sure, Chris Paul insisted on going back into the game after he felt the initial "twinge" in his leg. At the very least, both Paul and Scott figured that the All-Star point guard would be able to finish the quarter. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

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"I gambled. It probably backfired a little bit," Scott said.

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The gamble definitely backfired and it was an instant shock to Paul's teammates. But for all the grief Scott will undoubtedly take in the next couple of days, it was him that decided to stop playing defense when Paul left the game. The fact that the Hornets let up 38 fourth-quarter points on 66.7% shooting while onely making just over 26% of their shots falls on the players. When asked what went through his mind when he saw his teammate go down, David West said flatly, "Nothing." So how is it that the Hornets gave up that huge lead?

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"We stopped playing defense," he said. "That's the bottom line, they scored almost 40 points in the fourth quarter."

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Peja Stojakovic summed up the whole situation as "bad, bad, bad" and added that the players' reaction to Paul's injury was definitely not what they wanted.

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"It is a little bit dissapointing," he said. "After being 20 points up and then losing the game. But what can you do? You got to continue play."

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As for how the Hornets will continue to play is up for much debate. Scott and several of his players admitted that the New Orleans offense will have to adjust significantly to the loss of their MVP-caliber point guard. That means more set plays, less pick-and-rolls, more movement, smarter shot selection and more players contributing where they haven't had to before.

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"Part of being a professional athlete is adjustments," Antonio Daniels said. "One way or another, God willing, he'll be back the next game, but if not we have to find a way to get the job done."

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It's likely that the Hornets will have to find a way to win without Paul. In the short term, that seems like a daunting task. After all, if the Hornets can't hold on to a 15-point lead in just over a quarter without Paul, how could one expect New Orleans to compete entire games without him? Asked whether he's concerned with how his team reacted to Paul leaving the court, Scott said "very concerned."

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"The players were probably more shell-shocked than anything as well, that [Paul] was heading towards the locker room," he said. "We just didn't react real well, especially on the defensive end."

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One thing's for sure, Hornets players, coaches and fans will learn a lot about the makeup of this team in the coming weeks. With just four games seperating the Hornets from playoff elimination, everyone will learn if this team has what it takes to stay afloat without its best player.

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