- Associated Press - Thursday, November 4, 2010

WESTWEGO, LA. (AP) - Monty Williams doesn’t want to lose sight of the imperfections dwelling beneath the surface of the New Orleans Hornets’ surprisingly perfect record through their first four games.

“Obviously you want to win games, but I’m in no position to talk about the record,” the 39-year-old rookie head coach said.

“My biggest thing is: How can we improve as a team and how can I keep getting better as a coach? We’ve talked about just having a desperate attitude no matter what our record is,” Williams continued. “When you don’t make the playoffs (the previous season) and you’ve got a rookie head coach, you’re in no position to be patting yourself on the back.”

The Hornets have been tested in victories over Milwaukee, Denver, San Antonio and Houston, but it doesn’t get any easier with the Miami Heat’s All-Star trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh coming to town on Friday night.

Williams quickly deflected credit to Chris Paul when explaining his team’s hot start.

“He’s the best in the league at his position right now,” Williams said. “He’s managing games like Peyton Manning does for the Colts. If you want to give anybody credit, offensively and defensively, he’s been a monster.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Paul, who missed 37 games last year due to injuries, looks like his old self.

“When I watch him, it’s similar to watching him two years ago,” Spoelstra said. “He just has a different gear, he’s shifty, he changes speeds so well. It’s like the great running backs, any kind of small gap that you can’t even really see, he’s able to slip through there and make any kind of play.

“There are going to be over double-digit unpredictable plays that you can’t prepare for or can’t script, maybe that you’ve never even seen before because of his creativity and his ability to get into the paint.”

Williams won’t deny that it feels good to start 4-0 with a club that went 1-7 in the preseason, but he reminded his players of how much work remains to be done.

“I told the guys yesterday, it’s like being in the NFL and scoring a touchdown in the first quarter and saying we’re going to the Super Bowl,” Williams said. “It’s too early in the season to even get excited about our record or what we’ve done.”

If the Hornets are not excited, they at least seem inspired by Williams and his relatively young staff, which includes lead assistant Mike Malone, the head defensive coach at Cleveland the past few seasons.

“They’re a very smart group and I think that’s showing in our preparation,” Hornets forward David West said of the coaches. “The information that we’re getting as ball players is really putting us in position to be successful.”

West said practice is more like “learning and teaching sessions than it is drilling in basketball stuff on the floor. That’s something that’s new to me in my eight years (in the NBA), but it’s working. It’s helping us, and I think we’re growing as ball players.”

Center Emeka Okafor said Williams‘ years as both a player in the NBA and as an assistant with San Antonio and Portland gave him credibility, and that it was obvious from the first day of training camp that he knew what he was doing. His players also describe him as a good communicator and a “great guy.”

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