With losses in four of the last five games, it came as no surprise that New Orleans dropped in four of five national media power polls we surveyed this week (the Hornets remained eighth in CBS Sportslines rankings).
Time for our Tuesday look at where the Hornets stand among in the 30 NBA teams:
SI.com (7th, down 1 spot from 8th the previous week): Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler are back from their injuries and they won at the Clippers on Saturday to snap a three-game losing skid. With five of their next six at home, beginning Monday night against the Twolves, they should be able to keep up their strong start.
Hornets.com says: Should was obviously the operative word here, as the Hornets lost to the Timberwolves, a defeat Byron Scott described as a bad loss. Still, New Orleans hopes to do a better job of capitalizing on a favorable upcoming schedule that includes a pair of three-day breaks (the first of those hiatuses began today) and several home games. The teams Dec. 1-9 four-game homestand begins with tough opponents Dallas and Detroit, before wrapping up against rebuilding Western Conference foes Memphis and Seattle. Looking further down the road, the Hornets 14-game December schedule consists of six opponents that currently sport a winning record Dallas twice, Detroit, Denver, Phoenix and Cleveland.
NBA.com (8th, down 3 spots): The Hornets are the anti-Mavs. Their defense is very good, but their offense can become stagnant at times, like in Fridays loss to Utah.
Hornets.com says: New Orleans 71-point outing in Salt Lake City factored greatly into the Hornets falling all the way to 19th in the NBA in points per game. The offense is 16th in field-goal percentage. At the other end, the Hornets ranked a solid No. 5 in points allowed per game and are 15th in defensive field-goal percentage. Despite the 1-4 recent stretch and the 28-point defeat to the Jazz, New Orleans has an average victory margin of 3.3 points, good for 11th in the league.
CBS Sportsline (8th, same as previous week): New Orleans got great news in that Tyson Chandlers knee injury suffered Monday wound up only being a hyper-extension. It looked a lot worse than it actually was and brought back awful memories for a team that got off to a strong start a year ago only to be derailed by one injury after another.
Hornets.com says: The best news of the past week was the quick returns of Chris Paul and Chandler after the point guard-center duo only missed a combined three games. The Hornets couldnt overcome lengthy injury absences last season to Peja Stojakovic (69 games), David West (32) and Paul (18) in their bid to qualify for the 2007 playoffs.
ESPN.com (8th, down 2 spots): The Hornets are predictably struggling to draw crowds of 12,000 in their return to New Orleans, but thats Concern 1B after minor (inevitable?) injuries to Paul (ankle) and Chandler (knee) derailed a 9-2 start.
Hornets.com says: The Hornets did seem to lose a little bit of their momentum after Paul and Chandler went down briefly. Since New Orleans' starting lineup returned to full strength, it has gone 1-2, including the defeat to Minnesota on Monday.
Dime Magazine (12th, down 7 spots): Since hurting his knee last week, Tyson Chandler has averaged only 6.3 rebounds per game. Hes clearly not close to 100 percent, and the Hornets struggles have been in direct correlation; theyve lost four of their last five, including an inexcusable home loss to Minnesota.
Hornets.com says: The extent to which Chandlers recent injury is affecting him is debatable, but heres what isnt: foul trouble is cutting into the 7-foot-1 center's playing time, and fewer minutes mean fewer rebounds. He is still averaging 10.3 rebounds per game, but thats down from the 12.4 he averaged in 2006-07. Of course, his minutes per game has also dropped, from 34.6 last season to 31.4 now. Interestingly, his personal fouls per game has actually lessened this season from 3.3 a season ago to 3.1, but its WHEN hes been picking up the fouls that is hampering him. Chandler has often been whistled for two fouls before the initial official timeout of the first quarter, forcing him to the bench.