JDefense with John DeShazier

January 17, 2013

Squinting, in order to see in the distance what the Hornets could be this season, no longer is a necessity.

Likewise, the run on rose-colored glasses can end.

In the previous 19 days and 10 games, we’ve gotten a crystal clear picture of what the Hornets can be when healthy and engaged, and to say they’ve provided reason for the growing optimism is a substantial understatement.

The Hornets are 7-3 since Dec. 29, a stretch during which they won four consecutive games, currently are on a two-game run, are riding a three-game home winning streak and a two-game road winning streak, including Wednesday’s eye-opening, larger-than-the-margin-says, 90-78 victory in Boston over the battle-tested Celtics.

Here, now, is the evidence to support the patience. It’s the proof that admonition to withhold judgment until every player was on board was merited.

Only Oklahoma City, which happens to own the best record in the league, and Brooklyn, which is seven games above .500, have a better record than New Orleans’ over the last 10 games. And if the Hornets weren’t still figuring out where all the pieces comfortably fit, they might’ve been able to match those twin 8-2 marks.

Now, absolutely, Eric Gordon deserves all the props he’s getting. The shooting guard has been instrumental in New Orleans run, which coincides with his return from leg rehab.

But the most impressive win of the seven probably was Wednesday, when Gordon didn’t play in Boston and backup point guard Brian Roberts suffered an ankle injury that forced him out of the game after playing just five minutes.

Beating the Celtics on the road was big. Getting a career game from Al-Farouq Aminu, who had 18 points and nine rebounds, was huge. Aminu, to his credit, perfectly has filled his role as a rebounder, defender and finisher since rejoining the starting lineup seven games ago. And Coach Monty Williams, to his credit, refused to bury the small forward on the bench.

Biggest, though, is that this team now appears to have the confidence to succeed with or without Gordon. Granted, success in the latter instance would be limited. But the Boston uprising showed it certainly can happen when the team is passionate and carries out its game plan.

Point guard Greivis Vasquez is having a Most-Improved-Player season. Center Robin Lopez is having the most productive year of his career. No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis isn’t being pressed to carry a franchise as a 19-year-old. All those things are wonderful, and all could be envisioned as fairly reasonable assumptions that could be made if the Hornets were healthy.

Well, they are healthy and whole. The pining for what could be has ended. What is, is upon us. And the rose-colored glasses can be shelved because the view throughlive-time lenses might even be better.

Monty Williams Show