Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 84, 76ers 77

Monday, January 3, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Hornets (21-14), 76ers (13-21)

It was over when… Chris Paul made two free throws to give New Orleans a seven-point lead with 10 seconds remaining. New Orleans captured its third straight victory, the first time since Nov. 21 that the Hornets have put together a three-game winning streak.

Hornets MVP: Emeka Okafor continued to build on what’s been his best stretch as a Hornet, finishing with 13 points and eight rebounds. After some peaks and valleys statistically early in the season, the 6-foot-10 center has been extremely consistent lately. Okafor has averaged 13.8 points and 11.0 rebounds over the past six games.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: In his first home game since the tragic automobile accident that claimed the lives of his sister and cousin in Michigan, Willie Green contributed 11 points and three rebounds. Two weeks have passed since the Dec. 20 tragedy, but some fans in the New Orleans Arena acknowledged Green with an ovation when he entered the game for the first time. By pure coincidence, Philadelphia inserted Ohio State product Evan Turner into the action at the exact same time, which led to simultaneous cheers from pockets of Buckeyes fans who are in New Orleans for Tuesday’s Sugar Bowl.

The buzz on… the Hornets’ home record against sub-.500 teams. They may not be the games fans look forward to most or circle on their calendar weeks in advance, but in a way, New Orleans’ home tilts against opponents like Philadelphia may be the most important ones in the hunt for a playoff berth. As the Hornets try to return to the postseason after a one-year absence in 2010, it’s imperative they do well against clubs with losing records – but especially so when they play them in the Hive. So far, the Hornets have been flawless in that category: they are 8-0 at home against teams that are currently below .500 (Bucks, Clippers, Cavs, Bobcats, Pistons, Kings, Nets, 76ers). As you can see by the list, a scheduling quirk has meant that New Orleans has had few such games against Western Conference squads – just two, to be exact. A third instance takes place Wednesday vs. the Warriors. Later this month, the Hornets will host the Raptors and Grizzlies.

Blog question of the night: Throughout the remainder of January, it’s time for “mid-term grades" on key members of the Hornets and the team overall. We start with the team’s “1”, point guard Chris Paul. As we approach the midway point of the regular season, what grade (A through F) would you give the three-time All-Star so far, based on expectations going into 2010-11?