Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 88, Bobcats 81

Saturday, January 15, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Hornets (25-16), Bobcats (15-23)

It was over when… Willie Green stole an errant Bobcats pass with 50 seconds remaining and the Hornets holding an 88-79 lead. New Orleans captured its fourth straight victory, the longest winning streak since the Hornets were 8-0 in mid-November. NOLA has also won five of its past six road games since Dec. 31, with the only defeat coming at the Lakers.

Hornets MVP: David West carried the offense at times Saturday, en route to racking up 26 points on 10-for-19 shooting from the field. Of New Orleans’ initial 28 points of the second half, the two-time All-Star scored 12 of them. It was a typically methodical performance by the 6-foot-9 power forward, who had at least seven points in each of the last three quarters.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Bobcats TV analyst Dell Curry, who also happens to be the all-time leading scorer in Hornets history, described Marcus Thornton this way Saturday: “He has no fear, no conscience and can shoot the basketball. That’s a dangerous combination.” The Louisiana State product paced a quiet outing from the Hornets’ bench, tallying seven points, all in the second quarter.

The buzz on… a Western Conference race that’s getting a lot tighter than many may realize. In one example of the ground the Hornets have gained on some of their competition lately, on Dec. 27 they were seven games behind the Mavericks in the standings (18-13 vs. 24-5). Following Saturday’s victory over the Bobcats, that gap was down to just 2.5 games (pending Dallas’ game later Saturday at Memphis).

With a 6-2 January so far, New Orleans remains in sixth place in the West, but also trails Utah and Oklahoma City by that same 2.5-game margin. Recent results such as the home loss to Golden State have again proven that there are no certainties in the NBA, but the Hornets have a handful of upcoming games against struggling opponents before this month concludes. It may be time to change the popular conversation from just trying to ensure a playoff berth, to making a push to move further up in an always-heated conference race.

Blog question of the night: We’re now at the official halfway point of the season, with the Hornets on pace to win exactly 50 games. With 41 games in the books, what overall mid-term grade do you give the Hornets?