A look at where the Hornets are ranked (out of the 30 NBA teams) by national websites earlier this week. The majority of these rankings and comments were released by the other sites prior to Monday’s defeat in Memphis:
SI.com (8th, same as previous week): “Playing at the league's third-slowest pace (behind Portland and Detroit) has its benefits, like allowing the Hornets to grind out victories in two of three games without MVP candidate Chris Paul. The quietly effective Rasual Butler totaled 40 points in those home wins against Toronto and Minnesota.”
Hornets.com says: One of the biggest misperceptions about the Hornets over the past two seasons has been that they are a running team, relying primarily on offense to win games. Not true. During its Southwest Division-winning season of a year ago, New Orleans was also in the bottom five of the league in pace. Partly due to that slow pace and fewer possessions in their games, the Hornets allow the third-least points in the NBA, trailing only Cleveland and Boston.
Dime Magazine (8th, down 2 spots): “Four losses in a row, the last 1.5 without Chris Paul in the lineup. CP isn’t supposed to be out for too long, so don’t expect N.O. to rush out and make a trade, but their offense looks pretty lost at the moment.”
Hornets.com says: Obviously this comment was made prior to the team’s recent 2-1 stretch, including wins over Toronto and Minnesota, followed by the loss at Memphis. The offense was dreadful last night (franchise-record low in shooting percentage), but posted 101 points apiece against the Raptors and Timberwolves.
NBA.com (9th, down 1 spot): “Just in case you didn't realize how much the Hornets depend on Chris Paul, they were outscored by the Blazers 42-17 in 13 1/2 minutes after he went down with a groin injury on Monday. Somehow, they beat the Timberwolves on Sunday (even after David West got ejected) on Sean Marks' game-winning dunk. Yes, Sean Marks' game-winning dunk.”
Hornets.com says: It’s already been a season of multiple firsts for Marks. The New Zealand native has surpassed his single-season career-high for minutes played, with 370. He started a game for the first time since the 2001-02 season (which was the only other campaign that he’s been a starter). This could be the first time in his career that he is part of the rotation of a playoff qualifier. He made his NBA postseason debut last spring for Phoenix, appearing in one first-round game against San Antonio.
ESPN.com (9th, same as previous week): “Have to be honest: Didn't think the Hornets would ever win a game without Chris Paul after watching their total capitulation to Portland on the night CP3 strained his groin. Somehow they've stolen two wins in a row.”
Hornets.com says: I think basically what the Hornets have shown over the last week is why it’s easier to go into a game knowing that you’ll be without your All-Star point guard, as opposed to losing him in the middle of a game. As Byron Scott put it, New Orleans players were “shell-shocked” in the Portland game after Paul’s injury. It seemed like the Trail Blazers sensed the opportunity to pull off a huge comeback against a suddenly-vulnerable opponent, which is exactly what they did.
SportingNews.com (9th, up 1 spot): “They were missing four starters on Monday. They shot a franchise-low 29.5 percent. And yet, they still had a chance to beat the Grizzlies.”
Hornets.com says: If you want to try to take a positive from the Memphis loss, that would be it. In fairness to the Grizzlies, though, they were also missing a few key components, including second-leading scorer Rudy Gay.