Two Hornets seek end to personal playoff droughts

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

With 16 of the 30 NBA teams reaching the playoffs each spring, it requires an unenviable combination of misfortune and poor timing for a player to be in the league for more than a half-decade and never get the chance to appear in the postseason. For Emeka Okafor and Jarrett Jack, however, being on the wrong team at the wrong time has been a constant since they were NBA first-round draft picks in 2004 and 2005, respectively.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Jack’s 476 career regular season games played is the fourth-most among active NBA players without a playoff appearance. Okafor’s 473 career games with no NBA postseason experience ranks fifth on the list. Incidentally, among the top three players on the list, Troy Murphy (648 career games) figures to be able to remove his name next month after he signed with Boston recently. Mike Dunleavy (620) also could make his NBA playoff debut - Indiana narrowly holds the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately for current No. 3 Chris Wilcox (527), he'll likely extend his non-playoff streak, as a member of the Detroit Pistons.

Later this week, the Hornets could make substantial progress toward getting Okafor and Jack into the NBA playoffs for the first time, when they visit the Jazz, Suns and Lakers on a three-game road trip. NOLA's magic number to clinch a postseason berth has been stuck on 10 over the past several days, due to the Hornets’ defeat to the Celtics on Saturday, combined with consecutive Suns victories on the weekend. Phoenix (35-33) plays at the Los Angeles Lakers at 9:30 p.m. tonight on TNT.

Here is our weekly look at what other websites are saying about the Hornets in NBA power polls:
SportingNews.com (10th, same as previous week): “PG Chris Paul’s hot streak came crashing down against the Celtics on Saturday, as he dished 15 assists but shot 0-for-9 from the field—his first 0-for since February 2007.”

ESPN.com (13th, down 1 spot): “Update from the Hornets' roller coaster: They shot out at 11-1, nosedived into a 7-13 funk, rose with a 13-2 rally, dipped again into a 4-12 rut and then went 5-2 before that fall-from-ahead loss at home to Boston.”

NBA.com (14th, same as previous week): “After a brilliant three-game run, Chris Paul came up empty (0-for-9 from the field) in Boston on Saturday. The Hornets still have some work to do to hold onto their playoff spot, and after four days off, they embark on a huge three-game, four-day trip starting Thursday, visiting the Jazz, Suns and Lakers.”

SI.com (14th, down 1 spot): “General manager Dell Demps has generally done well with his tinkering around Chris Paul, David West and Emeka Okafor. At the trading deadline, he dealt his most explosive scorer, Marcus Thornton, and expanded the team's offensive capabilities. Power forward Carl Landry, who came over from Sacramento in the Thornton trade, is shooting 58.1 percent and averaging 10.3 points in 22.3 minutes over the last 10 games. He's proved to be superior to Jason Smith as a backup to West and enabled the Hornets to continue running their half-court sets designed to get the power forward the ball. Meanwhile, shooting guard Marco Belinelli has filled the void left by Thornton. Belinelli is averaging 13.2 points in 27.6 minutes and shooting 48.9 percent from three-point range in the last 10 games.”