Fans across the nation wondering what all the fuss is about regarding the Hornets rookies will get two prime-time opportunities to see Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton play over the next three days. A few weeks back, ESPN added Friday nights Orlando-New Orleans game to its schedule, changing the tip-off time to 8:30 p.m. (from its original start of 7 p.m.). Sundays 8:30 p.m. New Orleans at Dallas game has been on ESPNs broadcast docket since back in August, when the 2009-10 NBA schedule was released.
Without a doubt, this is a crucial stretch for the Hornets, who fell from just one game out of eighth place in the Western Conference to three games behind during a two-day span. New Orleans (30-28) lost to Cleveland and Milwaukee on its two-game road trip; meanwhile, Portland (34-26) won at New Jersey and Toronto.
Seventh-place San Antonio (32-23) also prevailed Wednesday, stretching its edge over New Orleans to 3 1/2 games. The Spurs and Hornets will face each other twice next week, beginning Monday in NOLA. With the Hornets playing late in Dallas on Sunday night, they will fly back to the Big Easy immediately after the game against the Mavericks, then host the Spurs in a back-to-back situation Monday evening.
Incidentally, the second of two Hornets games against the Spurs next week, Friday in San Antonio at 8:30 p.m., is also an ESPN telecast, meaning three of the next five New Orleans contests will be carried by that network.
Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy will be ESPN's commentators during the Magic-Hornets game. Dan Shulman and Tim Legler will call Sunday's Hornets-Mavericks game.
Following its back-to-back in Cleveland and Milwaukee, the team had a rare full off day Thursday. Expect an update on Morris Petersons status during Friday morning shootaround at the New Orleans Arena, prior to the Orlando game. Peterson (strained left hamstring) has started the past nine games, but exited after just four minutes of action last night. Marcus Thornton has been spectacular coming off the bench, tallying 37 and 25 points vs. the Cavaliers and Bucks. The Hornets have only had 10 healthy players available since Darius Songailas ankle injury vs. Utah, so after Peterson exited, they were down to nine in Milwaukee.