Hornets back in top 10 of each power poll

Tuesday, December 9, 2008
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

One of the interesting aspects of the Hornets’ start to this season, which has been described as “disappointing” by many media members, is that they actually have the same record through 17 games as they did in 2007-08 – the best campaign in team history.

New Orleans was also 11-6 at this point of the season a year ago, and “only” 15-10 in mid-December. That means if the Hornets win five of their next eight games, they would be ahead of last season’s pace.

It wasn’t until January that New Orleans hit its stride in 2007-08, winning nine straight games. The Hornets haven’t put together a similar streak yet this season, but behind a 6-1 stretch since Nov. 21, they’ve continued to climb back toward the top of national NBA power ranking lists. New Orleans played just two games last week, beating Phoenix and Charlotte by double-figure margins.

Our weekly look at where the Hornets are listed in national polls, out of the 30 NBA teams:

SI.com (5th, up 2 spots from previous week): “David West has been asserting himself more (20.9 points over his last seven games, and a 14-rebound effort vs. the Suns), a big reason why they have won six of their last seven games. But Friday's showdown in Boston will be the real test to see if the old Hornets really are back.”
Hornets.com says: Friday’s game on ESPN has all the makings of a highly-rated broadcast and includes several interesting storylines. Boston has won 12 games in a row, a streak that would reach 13 if the Celtics prevail at struggling Washington on Thursday. Friday will also mark James Posey’s return to Boston to pick up his championship ring.

Sporting News (6th, up 6 spots): “Somnolent. Can get lots of rest when you've only played 17 games.”
Hornets.com says: It’s been a strange start to the regular season, with five three- or four-day breaks between games, including the current hiatus. The Hornets have played fewer games than any of the league’s 30 teams. The obvious flip side to this is that the Hornets will end up playing more games later in the schedule than other clubs. For example, New Orleans plays 16 times in both January and March.

Dime Magazine (6th, up 6 spots): “Six wins in their last seven, and we even had an on-court Sean Marks sighting over the weekend during their blowout against Memphis.”
Hornets.com says: Dime describes it as a rarity to see him on the court, but Marks has actually played six minutes or more in every Hornets game since his return from injury on Nov. 27. He isn’t only getting into games when it’s “garbage time,” either. Marks’ most productive outing so far was a six-point, six-rebound effort against the Grizzlies, over 18 minutes of playing time.

NBA.com (9th, up 2 spots): “The Hornets have won six of their last seven with Chris Paul shooting a scorching .558 from the field during that stretch, but you still have the feeling that this team is not playing their best basketball. Friday's trip to Boston will be a test of just that.”
Hornets.com says: During the seven-game stretch NBA.com refers to, CP3 also shot 50 percent from three-point range (6-for-12) and 91 percent (31-for-34) from the foul line.

ESPN.com (10th, same as previous week): “For all the panic about the Hornets' lack of a bench, over-reliance on Chris Paul and slow starts by the likes of Peja and Chandler, here's the flip side: 11-6 is right where last season's division champs were after 17 games.”
Hornets.com says: Speaking of the slow starts by Stojakovic and Tyson, Peja’s recent hot shooting has lifted his three-point percentage to 43.1, approaching his career-high from last season of 44.1. His overall field-goal percentage remains below-average at 41.6, his lowest rate since his rookie year – but there are still 65 games left. Chandler is averaging 3.7 fewer points and 3.9 fewer rebounds per game than he did in 2007-08. His minutes are also down 3.1 per game. His 14-point, nine-rebound, three-block game in the Wednesday win over Phoenix was one of his best performances this season.