With Tuesday being a scheduled off day for the Hornets following back-to-back games, New Orleans did not hold practice this morning, the first time since the All-Star break players had no mandatory responsibilities. Four-time All-Star point guard Chris Paul (concussion) is being evaluated today by local doctors, making it likely first-year head coach Monty Williams will provide an update on Pauls status to the New Orleans media at Wednesday mornings shootaround. New Orleans hosts Dallas at 7 p.m. Wednesday; Hornets home shootarounds generally conclude between 10:30 and 11 a.m.
Currently wedged between several rivals in the standings, the Hornets (37-29) are in seventh place in the Western Conference, only one game out of fifth place but also just 2.5 games in front of ninth-place Phoenix. New Orleans has fewer games remaining than any team in the West, with only 16, beginning with tomorrows Southwest Division matchup against the Mavericks. Wednesdays game is actually one of few the Hornets have on their schedule that is NOT against one of the clubs they are vying with in the standings. In fact, of the last 16 games, a total of 10 are vs. opponents currently in fifth through 11th place in the West (No. 9 Phoenix 3 times, No. 8 Memphis 2, No. 6 Portland 2, No. 10 Utah 2, No. 5 Denver 1, No. 11 Houston 1).
Heres a look at what national websites are saying about NOLA in weekly power polls:
NBA.com (16th, same as previous week):After getting outscored 46-11 by Jose Calderon and Toney Douglas, Chris Paul returned to form with 23 points and 14 assists in the Hornets' win in Memphis. But then came the scary collision in Cleveland that sent Paul to the hospital with a concussion. He'll be OK, but will miss Monday's meeting with Derrick Rose.
ESPN.com (15th, down 2 spots):Think I speak for just about all of us when I say it'd be great if we could rewind to, say, Wednesday. Back when the biggest concern about CP3 was that recent scoring dip as opposed to Sunday's scary stretcher scenes.
SI.com (16th, down 1 spot):With Marcus Thornton having been traded to Sacramento and Trevor Ariza out with a groin injury, shooting guard Marco Belinelli got a bump in his playing time. And when Chris Paul sustained a scary concussion against Cleveland on Sunday, forcing combo guard Jarrett Jack to take Paul's place more often, Belinelli became even more prominent in the rotation. He has seized the opportunity to shoot with an accuracy that has been missing since his hot November as a surprise starter helped propel New Orleans to 11 wins in its first 12 games. Although he hurts the Hornets' defense, which doesn't sit well with coach Monty Williams, Belinelli also has the highest true shooting percentage among guards named Chris Paul, and New Orleans needs to improve an offense that ranks 22nd in efficiency to better compete in the crowded playoff race.
SportingNews.com (14th, down 1 spot): PG Chris Pauls concussion is the latest hit to a team that is losing its grip on the postseason. The good news is that Paul appears to be OK.