With Okafor, Hornets have a new game plan

BOSTON -- Byron Scott and Emeka Okafor still are trying to get to know one another.

Scott built his New Jersey Nets teams around Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson. He so far, with good reason, has built his New Orleans Hornets teams around Chris Paul and David West. When the Hornets acquired Okafor this summer, though, Scott embraced the challenge of building game plans around a 6-foot-10 center.

"We're going to feature him a lot in our offense," said Scott, himself a prolific 3-point shooter for more than a decade. "We're going to throw him the ball. I've had to adjust because, in my offense over the past 10 years, I've never had a center like that. My offense has always been predicated on my guards and forwards. I'm adjusting a little bit, trying to get him the ball a little bit more down there."

But while being the focal point of an offense isn't exactly new to Okafor, the Hornets are still adjusting. The former UConn star missed the entire preseason with a toe injury, and he practiced for the first time three weeks ago. He didn't play in a game until the regular-season opener.

That, though, didn't seem to matter: Going up against a Tim Duncan-led frontcourt Wednesday in San Antonio, Okafor finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds. He followed that up with another double-double against Sacramento on Friday.

"It's amazing to have a guy who hadn't had any training camp and no preseason games or practices, and in his first game against San Antonio has 18 and (10)," Scott said. "Two nights later, he has 11 and 13 and four blocks. When he really gets a full understanding of what we're doing at both ends of the floor and he gets in great shape, basketball shape -- because right now he's just in fair shape -- he's going to be a monster. He's already a load down there right now to handle."

The more comfortable Okafor gets within the Hornets' offense, the tougher it'll be on the opposing big men who have to fight him for position. In some ways, the Celtics catch a break by drawing New Orleans this early on the schedule; the Hornets might look vastly different when the two teams meet again in February.

"That move will show its face more later -- especially during the playoffs," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.