In terms of the way the Hornets would be viewed by the media and the league, their recent schedule was virtually a no-win situation. If New Orleans had swept two games from Oklahoma City and defeated Sacramento to go 3-0 overall, the Hornets wouldve simply been doing what they were "supposed to do." When they were tripped up by the Kings in NOLA, it didnt take a genius to figure out that the Hornets would slip in the power rankings.
Thats exactly what happened: The Hornets pair of double-digit weekend victories over the struggling Thunder were overshadowed by Wednesdays disappointing defeat to the shorthanded Kings. Heres our weekly look at where the Hornets rank in current media power polls:
SI.com (9th, down 1 spot from previous week): Consecutive wins over the Thunder hardly make up for last week's home loss to the Kings, which was also their fifth defeat in seven games. Chris Paul has been doing his thing, but David West, Peja Stojakovic and Morris Peterson need a wakeup call pronto.
Hornets.com says: West, whose numbers were previously a bit below those that he put up in 2007-08, has responded with 33- and 27-point outings in the last two games. His season average of 20.9 points is now higher than last season (20.6), but his rebounding is down by two boards a game. Meanwhile, Stojakovic is still in a shooting funk, going 5-for-12, 5-for-14 and 5-14 during the current three-game win streak. Peterson has missed four straight games to injury.
Dime Magazine (9th, down 2 spots): While Chris Paul is creeping up on history, David West is playing like an All-Star, leading N.O. in scoring each of the last five games, highlighted by a 33-point effort against the Thunder over the weekend.
Hornets.com says: Over the last two games, West has been more aggressive, attempting 20-plus shots for the first time since the Nov. 1 home opener vs. Cleveland. Its no coincidence that as Wests scoring has risen, so have Pauls assist totals. CP3 has single-game assist tallies of 17, 16 and 15 over the last four games. He also had a six-assist game in that stretch, but that was in OKC when he was only needed for 27 minutes of playing time.
SportingNews.com (9th, up 3 spots from previous week): Denver-Portland back-to-back is a good test.
Hornets.com says: No doubt. The Nuggets are 8-2 since Chauncey Billups made his 2008-09 Nuggets debut on Nov. 7. Their only losses with Mr. Big Shot have been at Cleveland and at the Lakers. Impressive. Meanwhile, Portland is a similar 8-3 in its last 11 games. The Rose Garden has been a place the Hornets dont want to visit, with a 7-16 all-time record in Portland. By the way, apparently Sporting News writer Sean Deveney wasnt as swayed by the Hornets' loss to Sacramento as other scribes, because he actually moved New Orleans up in his poll.
NBA.com (10th, down 1 spot): Back-to-back games with the Thunder are good for what ails you. Starting your three-game trip out west with the Clippers (Monday night) should be a nice remedy as well. But Peja Stojakovic is shooting .370 for the season and .324 in his last seven games. Slump or age?
Hornets.com says: Its tough to pinpoint exactly why Stojakovics early shooting numbers have dropped, but the fact that the team hasnt been pushing the ball limits the open treys he often receives as a trailer on fast breaks. The 11-year veteran actually shot the highest three-point percentage of his career last season, at 44.1. His overall field-goal percentage in 2007-08 was .440, his best rate since his 2004-05 All-Star season.
ESPN.com (12th, down 2 spots): The stumbling Hornets were handed a stretch of four straight gimme games. A real get-well card. So what happens? After a home L to the Kevin Martin-less Kings, it'll take a win in Clipperland just to get them to 3-1.
Hornets.com says: New Orleans got the win in Clipperland. Next on the docket are three straight games against highly-respected Western Conference opponents Denver, Portland and Phoenix (Dec. 3 in NOLA).