Dallas (46-17) at New Orleans (37-29)

By KATE HEDLIN, STATS Writer Wednesday, Mar 9, 2011 Tipoff: 8:00 pm EST Wed Mar 9, 2011

If their first game without Chris Paul(notes) is any indication, the New Orleans Hornets could be in big trouble if their star player is out for much longer.

Following their lowest-scoring performance of 2011, the Hornets may not find it any easier Wednesday night when they host the Dallas Mavericks.

Paul sat out an 85-77 loss at Chicago on Monday after sustaining a concussion in Sunday’s win over Cleveland. The Hornets (37-29) were held to their lowest shooting percentage (36.3) and fewest points since an 88-70 loss at Philadelphia on Dec. 12.

The team confirmed Wednesday that Paul will not play Wednesday and is unsure when he’ll return, planning to be careful with this injury and not to rush back its All-Star point guard.

“I know he’s in some pain,” coach Monty Williams said Monday. “You don’t take a hit like that and not be in some pain, but people don’t realize how tough that kid is. He’s played through pain all year long, with his knee and his hip. … He takes falls all the time, but last night was a different scenario. I almost have to be the uncle/father/brother, and just say, ‘Look, dude, you’re not playing tonight.’”

David West(notes) will have to do a better job if New Orleans remains without Paul for a longer period of time. The Hornets’ leading scorer at 18.7 points per game was held to 11 on 4-of-17 shooting by the Bulls. He went 1 for 6 in the fourth quarter.

“We couldn’t convert down the stretch,” West said. “We didn’t have enough offense.”

Jarrett Jack(notes) scored a team-high 23 points starting in Paul’s place but had five turnovers and three assists. Paul is fourth in the league with 9.6 assists per game and second with a 4.21 assist-to-turnover ratio.

An extended absence by Paul could put the Hornets’ playoff hopes in jeopardy. They are holding on to the seventh seed in the Western Conference, but the next four teams in the standings are within four games of them.

Without Paul, it could be tough for the Hornets to compete against the Mavericks. The teams haven’t met since splitting two games in November, decided by a combined five points, as Paul averaged 21.0 points and 10.0 assists.

Dallas (46-17) has won 19 of 21 and bounced back from its loss to Memphis on Sunday with a 108-105 win at Minnesota on Monday.

The Mavericks remain second in the West.

“There’s a lot of positive aspects to the last 20 games or whatever, but I think there’s got to be some perfectionist inside a team that’s trying to get where we’re going,” coach Rick Carlisle told the team’s official website.

Dirk Nowitzki(notes) battled foul trouble Monday but had 25 points in 27 minutes while Brian Cardinal(notes) scored a season-high 12, getting additional playing time with Nowitzki on the bench.

Nowitzki is averaging 26.0 points over the last six games while shooting 60.5 percent. He’s averaged 27.0 points and 9.5 rebounds versus the Hornets this season.

The Mavericks, allowing 96.1 points per game, have yielded more than 100 in all three games since losing starting center Tyson Chandler(notes) to a sprained ankle. The team leader with 62 blocks, Chandler hopes to return Wednesday to face the team which traded him to Charlotte following the 2008-09 season. He’s averaging 10.4 points and 9.4 rebounds this season, and the Mavs are 13-3 when he has a double-double.

Dallas has lost seven straight in New Orleans.

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Wednesday, Mar 9