New Orleans went just 1-2 last week, but its Saturday victory over Phoenix caught the attention of many observers around the league. As a result, the Hornets dropped only slightly in three of the four national polls, while holding steady at No. 6 in ESPN.coms rundown.
Time for our Tuesday look at where the Hornets stand among the 30 NBA teams in the polls:
ESPN.com (6th, same as previous week):
How do we know that this group is better than ever? The Hornets were 0-12 last season against San Antonio, Phoenix and Dallas. This season: theyre already 2-2 after recent victories over the Mavs and Suns.
The wins over Dallas (Dec. 1) and Phoenix (Dec. 15) have brought a measure of legitimacy to New Orleans solid start. The Spurs are now the lone elite Western Conference team that the Hornets have yet to beat. The next contest against one of the Wests Big Three comes Jan. 5 in Phoenix, followed by a Jan. 26 trek to San Antonio. The Hornets wont see any of those three clubs again in the Big Easy until Feb. 20, when Dallas visits New Orleans in the Hornets first game after the All-Star break.
NBA.com (8th, down 2 spots):
After losing in Denver and Dallas, the Hornets came back home and got a nice win over the Suns. Four of their next five are on the road, beginning with tonights game in Portland, where recent history hasnt been good.
For whatever reason, the Rose Garden has been one of New Orleans least-favorite destinations over the past few seasons, including a November 2006 game in which the Hornets couldnt hold on to a 27-point lead. The rest of the December road slate includes three opponents with losing records (Seattle, Memphis, Charlotte), so it will be interesting to see if the Hornets can take advantage of a few less-experienced hosts. Portland became the first team Monday to defeat New Orleans twice this season.
SI.com (9th, down 1 spot):
Chris Paul had 21 points and 10 assists to help them down the Suns on Saturday night. Paul has scored 20 or more points in eight of their last nine games. Meanwhile, Melvin Elys broken eye socket courtesy of (Kenyon Martin) will keep the reserve forward out for at least a month.
Paul suffered a rare poor offensive game Monday in Portland, scoring 11 points on 5-for-15 shooting.
Ely is expected to be out at least two weeks, which has meant more minutes for Hilton Armstrong. Stojakovic will miss Wednesdays game at Seattle. His status beyond that is undetermined.
Dime Magazine (13th, down 3 spots):
Look out: Tyson Chandler has pulled down 18 and 19 boards, respectively, in his last two games. Hes not blocking as many shots, but his 11.6 points per game is on pace for a career-high.
Heres how far Chandler has come offensively: He averaged 5.3 points per game in 2005-06, his final season with Chicago, but has now more than doubled his scoring average from two years ago, despite only playing about seven more minutes per game. Another interesting statistic to measure Chandlers increased role in the offense is this: in 2006-07 with the Hornets, he averaged one field-goal attempt every 5.4 minutes. This season, hes taken a shot every 4.3 minutes of action. Going back to the aforementioned 2005-06 season in Chicago, he fired a shot only once every 7.5 minutes. ... By the way, let's cut Dime a break for seemingly not being sold yet on the Hornets 25 games into the season, but they still have New Orleans ranked behind Houston in their power poll. By comparison, NBA.com and ESPN.com list the Hornets eight and 10 spots ahead of the Rockets, respectively.