Hornets rise to No. 1 spot in SI.com rankings

Tuesday, November 4, 2008
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

One week into the regular season, there are still more than a handful of NBA teams sporting unbeaten records. Only one of them has been perfect while playing part of the schedule without two projected starters, however.
For the third straight year, New Orleans has opened a season by winning at least its first three games – in each of the previous two campaigns, the Hornets were 4-0 prior to their initial loss.
Apparently New Orleans’ effectiveness without Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic made an impact on national observers. Sports Illustrated’s website elevated the Hornets up to the top spot out of 30 NBA teams. Each of the other four websites we surveyed listed New Orleans second, behind the Lakers.
Our weekly look at where the Hornets are mentioned in national power rankings:

SI.com (1st, up 3 spots from preseason): “Not even the absences of Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic (ankle injuries): slowed them down last week as they downed the Warriors, Suns and Cavs to run their record to 10-0 (counting preseason). Newly acquired James Posey has blended seamlessly so far with his trademark three-point shooting and defense.
Hornets.com says: It’s only been three official games, but Posey looks more like he’s been a Hornet for about three years. He already seems like a fan favorite in the New Orleans Arena, a status that only increased after seeing his lockdown defense on LeBron James and timely threes in the home opener.

NBA.com (2nd, up 1 spot): “Losing Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic to ankle injuries this early is obviously a concern, but it does give the Hornets’ bench, which we questioned just a week ago, some extra time to develop. Starting for Peja, Rasual Butler came up big in Saturday’s win over the Cavs.”
Hornets.com says: Butler has been one of the biggest positive stories of the first week, hitting several clutch three-pointers during the fourth quarter of wins vs. Phoenix and Cleveland. He’s 6-for-9 from three-point range through the three games. The La Salle product also has been a factor on defense, with three steals and two blocks.

ESPN.com (2nd, up 1 spot): “We were kidding when we talked up that 7-0 preseason, but a 3-0 start is the real deal. Especially because the Hornets opened on the road, played Phoenix and Cleveland next and didn’t have Chandler for two of the W’s.”
Hornets.com says: Hilton Armstrong filled in for Chandler at starting center in those two games. Armstrong’s playing time was limited a bit by foul trouble, though. The third-year pro has picked up 11 fouls in 58 minutes.

FoxSports.com (2nd, up 1 spot): “The good: Including the preseason, the Hornets haven’t lost yet. James Posey already looks like a terrific addition. The bad: You can’t count the preseason. And Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic already have sprained ankles.
Hornets.com says: Fortunately, it appears as though Chandler and Stojakovic’s ankle injuries won’t prevent them from missing much more time (see previous blog post).

SportingNews.com (2nd, up 1 spot): “Undefeated, including preseason.”
Hornets.com says: Of course, you always have to take preseason results with a grain of salt, but to me the unbeaten exhibition slate was a small sign of how focused the Hornets were from the outset of training camp.

Both Chandler, Peja may return vs. Hawks

There appears to be encouraging news on the injury front after today's practice at the Alario Center: Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic each participated and looked ready for game action. There is a chance that both starters will be back in the lineup Wednesday vs. the Hawks.

"I was pretty surprised when Peja said he was good enough to practice today," said Byron Scott, who initially believed Stojakovic would miss 1-2 weeks after being injured Thursday in Phoenix. "(But) to watch him out there, it didn't look like he had any problems whatsoever. Both of them, we'll see how they feel tomorrow at shootaround. But right now, I'd say both of them (will play)."

Hilton Armstrong and Rasual Butler have replaced Chandler and Stojakovic in the starting five since their injuries.