NOLA homestand features more formidable foes

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

It’s like the punch line to a joke, but one that probably won’t have fans of the New Orleans Hornets laughing much.

Question: How do you know when an NBA team is facing a difficult homestand?

Answer: When the Lakers – with their four future Hall of Famers – are the easiest opponent.

Although it’s debatable that the star-studded Lakers are actually the “worst” visitor during New Orleans’ current five-game home stretch, based on the standings, it’s factually true. Through Thursday’s NBA light slate of games, the Lakers (7-8) are the only club the Hornets will face that is below .500.

The homestand began Wednesday with a loss against the Jazz (9-7) and will continue Saturday vs. the defending Western Conference champion Thunder (12-4). Starting on Monday, the Hornets host a game every other day, facing the Bucks (7-6), Lakers and Grizzlies (11-2). Memphis has the NBA’s best record, while Oklahoma City is currently fourth overall based on winning percentage.

Not surprisingly given the steady stream of quality opponents the Hornets have faced so far, according to ESPN.com, they have had the NBA’s sixth-toughest schedule – and that statistic obviously doesn’t even factor in the next handful of games. The 14 clubs New Orleans has met early in 2012-13 have a combined winning percentage of .536. As would be expected given how tough the competition is in the West, five of the seven teams with the most difficult schedules are from this conference. In another example of how few relatively-light opponents the Hornets have had in the first month of ’12-13, they haven’t played any of the NBA’s seven worst teams record-wise.

Fittingly, there will be no rest for the weary, either. Less than 24 hours after the Hornets wrap up their current five-game homestand by facing Memphis, they’ll immediately get on a plane to meet the defending NBA champion Heat (11-3) in Miami next Saturday.

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