Hornets (6-0), Bucks (2-5)
It was over when… trailing by five points with less than 20 seconds left, Milwaukee missed two three-point attempts in an effort to extend the game. David West grabbed Brandon Jennings’ errant trifecta from the right wing, pulling down a defensive board with 6.6 seconds to go. West made the first of two free throws, wrapping up another Hornets victory. All six of New Orleans' opponents finished above .500 last season.
Hornets MVP: West was a handful all game against the Bucks' interior defense, scoring on an array of crafty hook shots and mid-range jumpers. One night after Emeka Okafor was a fantastic 12-for-13 from the field vs. Miami, West went 10-for-12. The two-time All-Star finished with 25 points. He also came up with the biggest defensive play of the win for New Orleans, stealing a Milwaukee entry pass with 35 seconds left and the visitors holding on to a narrow 84-81 edge.
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Jason Smith had one of the most impressive six-point, six-rebound performances you’ll ever see. Smith was relentlessly active during his 19 minutes of playing time, making several key hustle plays. At the end of the third quarter, Smith knocked the ball away in the Milwaukee backcourt as the Bucks were trying to advance the ball, saved it from going out of bounds near the left sideline, then fired a pass to West for an open layup and 11-point lead.
The buzz on… the Hornets’ significant improvement in athleticism. Last season, New Orleans’ rotation included heavy minutes logged by starting shooting guard Morris Peterson, starting small forward Peja Stojakovic, backup wing James Posey and backup big Darius Songaila. Early in 2010-11, the roles of those players have gone to first-string 2 Marco Belinelli, first-string 3 Trevor Ariza, backup wing Willie Green and backup big Jason Smith, respectively. In each case, the current replacement is a more athletic (and younger) player. From that standpoint, it becomes easier to understand why New Orleans has so quickly become a better defensive club. The Hornets have looked much more cohesive on the defensive end in 2010-11, but it also has helped greatly to have more players with the quickness to not get beat frequently off the dribble.
Blog question of the night: With the Hornets guaranteed to remain undefeated until at least Tuesday, there should be plenty of national media focus on New Orleans' perfect start in the coming days. Most of those stories will probably center on the play of Paul and West, as well as Monty Williams’ superb debut as head coach. The contributions of some of the Hornets’ role players often get underplayed, however. With that said, which New Orleans player has most exceeded your expectations over the first six games of the season?