By the numbers: West, Okafor excel in win streak

Thursday, January 20, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

In one of the more improbable paths to a six-game NBA winning streak, the Hornets have prevailed each time by a single-digit margin, including three overtime games. They’ve also held four opponents under 90 points, not once allowing 100 points during regulation (Houston and Memphis needed OT to reach the century mark).

Heading into Friday’s 6:30 p.m. visit to the Hawks (28-15), the Hornets (27-16) will need to continue their stingy defensive play, as they try to win in Atlanta for the first time since November 2007. The Hawks actually have some relatively recent experience bringing an end to momentum the Hornets had built. During the 2008-09 season, New Orleans’ best stretch of play was a seven-game winning streak in February and March that was halted by a trip to Atlanta’s Philips Arena.

Here is a closer look at some of the numbers behind New Orleans’ current six-game streak, the second-longest active one in the league. San Antonio is the only hotter team right now, having won seven in a row entering its Friday home game vs. New York. The streaking Hornets and Spurs will face each other at 7 p.m. Saturday in NOLA:

STARTERS

Chris Paul: 35.5
The three-time All-Star’s minutes per game this season, a career-low. The Hornets have talked for several years about reducing the 25-year-old’s workload and have finally done so in the first half of 2010-11. However, in January his average has escalated to 37.3. It was 34.9 entering this month.

Marco Belinelli: 13
Amount of minutes the shooting guard needs to play in Friday’s game at Atlanta to surpass his career-high for a single season. The native of Italy logged 1,120 minutes with Toronto last season, but is already at 1,108 as a Hornet.

Trevor Ariza: 6
Years since a Hornets player other than Chris Paul has averaged more than 1.5 steals in a season. Although many aspects of the defense Ariza provides can’t be gauged in numbers, his disruptiveness is partly reflected by steal tallies. The UCLA product had a season-high six steals at Charlotte and is averaging 1.7 per game.

David West: 51.2
Field-goal percentage for the two-time All-Star this season, equaling a career-high he established in his breakout 2005-06 campaign, when he was named runner-up in the league’s Most Improved Player vote. West is averaging 21.5 points during the streak, while grabbing at least eight rebounds in all six games.

Emeka Okafor: 5
Number of consecutive double-doubles for the 6-foot-10 center, missing it during the six-game streak only once, when he managed nine points and 13 rebounds at Denver.

Reserves

Jarrett Jack: 23, 17
Scoring totals for the 6-foot-3 point guard in the recent wins over Houston and Toronto, respectively. Over his first 27 games in a Hornets uniform, his largest point tally was 12, but he’s exceeded that twice in the past four contests.

Willie Green: 22, 25
Minutes played by the eight-year pro in the two games he started, as a fill-in for Belinelli. Green’s playing time has dipped slightly recently, partly due to the increased usage of Jack.

Marcus Thornton: 4
Times this season the second-year shooting guard has scored more than 15 points while playing 24 minutes or less. The LSU product tallied 17 points in 22 minutes to spark NOLA’s comeback vs. Memphis. On Dec. 15 vs. Sacramento, he racked up 19 points in 24 minutes, amid a similar second-half surge.

Quincy Pondexter: 17
Consecutive games played by the rookie from the University of Washington. His most recent DNP-coach’s decision was Dec. 17 vs. Utah.

Jason Smith: 11.6
The 7-footer’s minutes per game in January, noticeably fewer than 16.9 he averaged from opening night through Dec. 31. With Okafor excelling and West often dominant, there have been fewer opportunities.

Aaron Gray: 30
Total minutes the center has played during the six-game winning streak, which accounts for more than a third of his playing time all season. For all of 2010-11, Gray has logged 75 minutes.