Big Easy Buzz Blog - January 17, 2010

Spurs game another chance to narrow gap in West

Sunday, January 17, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer,
A one-sided defeat in San Antonio in front of a national TV audience began New Orleans’ slide to a 3-8 start to the 2009-10 season. Since that discouraging opening to the campaign, part of the focus for the Hornets has been just trying to get back into the top eight of the Western Conference standings.

New Orleans (21-18) hasn’t quite moved into the West’s best eight records yet, but after going 8-2 in the last 10 games, the Hornets have made significant progress in their bid to catch several rivals. One of those foes is San Antonio (24-15), which has lost two straight games.

A New Orleans victory in Monday’s 2:30 home tilt would cut the Spurs’ advantage in the standings over the Hornets to just two games, while also equaling the head-to-head series at one apiece. Also at stake on Martin Luther King Day will be NOLA’s current seven-game home winning streak. The Hornets haven’t lost on their home floor since Dec. 11 vs. New York.

“Every game with the Spurs is important,” said Jeff Bower, who is 18-12 since taking over as head coach. “They’re viewed as the measuring stick by many people around the league. The Martin Luther King Day game is always a high-energy type of game. It should be a lot of fun.”

New Orleans’ hot stretch has pulled the Hornets within a half game of Houston (22-18) in the jumbled Southwest Division. Memphis (21-18) enters MLK Day tied with New Orleans and will visit Louisiana on Wednesday. Several other West teams are within striking distance of the Hornets and are scheduled to play each other over the next several days, giving New Orleans an excellent chance to quickly climb a few rungs if it can continue its homecourt success this week.