Thunder (31-17), Hornets (32-19)
It was over when
Kevin Durant delivered a beautiful feed to Nick Collison for a layup, giving Oklahoma City a 101-87 lead with 2:30 remaining. It was one of many outstanding plays made on the offensive end by Durant, whose spectacular individual performance included 43 points and five assists. The Thunder posted a third victory over the Hornets this season in four matchups, the first NOLA opponent to clinch the head-to-head series in 2010-11. With the clubs so close in the standings, that edge could come into play later in the regular season.
Hornets MVP: David West again demonstrated his unique combination for a power forward of perimeter skill (20 points, including several jumpers) and interior toughness (15 rebounds). His rebound tally was a season-best for the two-time All-Star, topping his prior high of 13 in the Dec. 10 game vs. the same Thunder squad.
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: One night after Jason Smith produced his best game in a Hornets uniform, fellow big man David Andersen did likewise Wednesday. Andersen helped keep New Orleans within four points of the lead at halftime, scoring 10 points prior to intermission. The Australian finished with 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting, while playing only 14 minutes. Before Wednesdays game, his best offensive output as a Hornet was seven points at Atlanta.
The buzz on
a slew of bad breaks in Oklahoma City. The tone for a one-day trek to the Sooner State was set in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, when the bus transporting Hornets players from that citys suburban airport to the teams downtown OKC hotel got stuck in the road due to weather conditions. Just seconds into Wednesdays game, a scramble for a loose ball near the sideline resulted in most of the contents of a fans drink being spilled all over Hornets TV analyst Gil McGregors shirt.
Far worse, Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza both sustained ankle injuries during the first three quarters of the game. While Paul returned to action after going to the locker room, Ariza did not come back in the game after his injury. The severity of his injury was uncertain following Wednesdays game; the team was not scheduled to practice Thursday, but will be back at the Alario Center on Friday.
All in all, the Hornets should probably be pleased that they arent slated to make any more trips to Oklahoma City for the rest of 2010-11, barring a playoff matchup.
Blog question of the night: One of the NBAs most improved teams, the Hornets made a significant overhaul of their roster during the 2010 offseason. After a hectic stretch of transactions in the late summer and fall, only five players remain from the New Orleans squad that went 37-45 a year ago. What mid-term grade would you give first-year general manager Dell Demps?