Hornets No. 1 in Sporting News, Fox Sports polls

Tuesday, January 22, 2008
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

In a season of firsts for the New Orleans franchise, here's something else we can't recall happening in recent memory, if ever: the Hornets are the top-ranked team in two national media power rankings.

Now on a five-game winning streak, New Orleans is 28-12 – the best start in the 20-year history of the club – and leading the ultra-talented Southwest Division.

Time for our Tuesday look at where the Hornets stand among the 30 NBA teams in the polls:

NBA.com (5th, up 3 spots):"The Hornets are in the midst of a stretch where they play nine of 11 at home, and they've won their last three games at the New Orleans Arena by an average of 28.3 points. Chris Paul has recorded double-doubles in eight of his last nine games and he scored 32 in the only one he didn't."
Hornets.com says:That 32-point game that included the only non-CP3-double-double was also the Hornets' lone defeat in January, which is no coincidence. When Paul gets quality contributions from the rest of the roster, he can be more of a distributor. When that happens, the assists pile up and he doesn't have to take a ton of shots for New Orleans to prevail.

ESPN.com (2nd, up 4 spots):"Don't know that we can make him the favorite, but Byron Scott has a real shot in the race to coach the West All-Stars in New Orleans. Which can only count as more evidence that Chris Paul should be starting in that game."
Hornets.com says:The cut-off date for when the West head coach will be determined is Feb. 3. New Orleans trails only Phoenix in the West standings right now, but Suns coach Mike D'Antoni is ineligible because he earned the honor last season and you can't do it two years in a row. That means that the Hornets "control their own destiny" in getting their coach into the All-Star Game. New Orleans has six games between now and the cut-off date, vs. Portland, vs. Clippers, at San Antonio, vs. Denver, vs. Golden State and at Sacramento.

SI.com (4th, same as previous week):"Ever since a 29-point home defeat to the Lakers on Jan. 9, they have been crushing foes. Saturday's 112-84 rout of the Bobcats made it four straight and 12 of 14 overall, as they continue to impress at both ends. "That (defeat to L.A.) woke us up, and now other teams are paying for it," Tyson Chandler said."
Hornets.com says:It's not often you see an NBA team obliterate opponents the way the Hornets have lately. The only close call during the five-game winning streak was the Nov. 13 victory at Houston. Other than that, New Orleans has taken any drama out of the proceedings by building huge second-half leads on its home floor.

Sporting News.com (1st, up 5 spots):"David West is making an All-Star push by averaging 22 points on 55 percent shooting with seven double-doubles over a nine-game stretch."
Hornets.com says:West appears to have a slightly better chance to make the All-Star roster than Tyson Chandler, partly based on the number of centers putting up huge numbers (Yao Ming, Amare Stoudemire, Marcus Camby). Of course, West's case is a lot stronger if you look at New Orleans' record, which may be tops in the conference at the All-Star break. Plus, could the conference's head coaches also give a potential "tie-breaking edge" to the 6-foot-9 power forward with the All-Star Game being held here?

Fox Sports.com (1st, up 5 spots):"Will New Orleans remain No. 1? Six of its next eight opponents have winning records."
Hornets.com says:After a relatively soft portion of the schedule, it definitely gets tougher now. Portland, San Antonio, Denver, Golden State, Utah and Phoenix are each on the docket over the next two weeks. Plenty of good chances for New Orleans to prove its legitimacy against high-caliber foes.