Twenty Hornets Games to Watch in 2012-13

July 26, 2012

In roughly three months, a new era in the history of the New Orleans Hornets franchise will officially begin. With a new owner and a pair of lottery picks – including No. 1 overall draft choice Anthony Davis – the excitement level for the NBA in New Orleans promises to continue to intensify.

In conjunction with Thursday’s official release of the 2011-12 NBA schedule, it’s time for Hornets fans to get out their calendars and start jotting down a few important dates. While Hornets.com recommends watching all 82 of the team’s games during this upcoming season, the following is a list of 20 games that are “can’t miss” in 2012-13:

Wednesday, Oct. 31 vs. San Antonio (Opening Night)
Whether intentional or not, the league’s schedule-makers opted to have No. 1 pick Anthony Davis make his official NBA debut against the top draftee from 15 years ago, Tim Duncan, who was chosen first in 1997. The Spurs are also arguably the Hornets’ biggest Southwest Division rival.
Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Saturday, Nov. 3 at Chicago
In their first road game of the regular season, the Hornets visit the team that finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference in 2011-12. It will also be the first time Kentucky products Davis and Darius Miller face a former college teammate, Bulls point guard Marquis Teague.

Wednesday, Nov. 7 vs. Philadelphia
In the first of two New Orleans regular season games scheduled for national television, ESPN will carry this interconference matchup between the Hornets and 76ers. This will be the lone national broadcast of a home game in the Crescent City.

Friday, Nov. 9 vs. Charlotte
The June draft marked the first time in NBA history that the first two picks came from the same college. This game in North Carolina will be the first official meeting between Davis and the Bobcats’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Friday, Nov. 16 vs. Oklahoma City
The defending Western Conference champion Thunder, headlined by NBA leading scorer Kevin Durant, make their first visit to Louisiana of 2012-13. They’ll be back in the Crescent City a little over two weeks later, on Saturday, Dec. 1.

Monday, Nov. 26 at L.A. Clippers
The final two matchups between the Hornets and Clippers last season were heated and physical affairs, particularly New Orleans’ March 22 home victory. This post-Thanksgiving trip to California will mark the first meeting between the clubs in 2012-13.

Hornets vs. Clippers - Jason Smith vs. Blake GriffinWednesday, Dec. 5 vs. L.A. Lakers
Whenever the Lakers and Kobe Bryant visit the Hive, it’s certain to be a packed house, and this time Bryant is bringing with him a brand-new backcourt partner, two-time MVP Steve Nash, along with the frontcourt duo of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

Saturday, Dec. 8 at Miami
Roughly a month and a half after the Heat are presented with their 2011-12 NBA championship rings, the Hornets will head to South Beach to play the reigning league titlists. The Heat’s Big Three was bolstered in the offseason by the signings of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.

Tuesday, Jan. 1 vs. Atlanta
For the third straight year, the Hornets will play on New Year’s Day, but this will be the first home game during that span. On a day traditionally known for college football bowl games, the revamped Hawks provide the opposition in a matchup of Southern NBA cities.

Sunday, Jan. 13 at New York
Many NBA players say Madison Square Garden is their favorite road arena, due to its rich history and tradition. The Hornets will face the Knicks in a matinee game in the Big Apple, coinciding with the second day of the NFL’s divisional playoffs.

Wednesday, Jan. 16 at Boston
ESPN will broadcast this game live on its airwaves, the second of two Hornets games slated for national television during the 2012-13 regular season. Both ESPN telecasts of New Orleans games are Wednesday 7 p.m. (Central) tip-offs.

Monday, Jan. 21 vs. Sacramento
For the sixth consecutive year since the Hornets returned to the city of New Orleans on a full-time basis in 2007, they’ll host a Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee. The Kings finished just one game ahead of the Hornets last season, but won three of four head-to-head matchups.
Greivis Vasquez vs. Boston Celtics
Wednesday, Feb. 20 at Cleveland
In New Orleans’ second game after the All-Star break, the No. 1 overall picks from the two most recent NBA drafts will square off in Ohio. Last month, the Cavaliers added another backcourt lottery pick (Dion Waiters) to pair with 2011-12 Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving.

Tuesday, March 12 at Brooklyn
The Hornets make their first-ever trip to the Barclays Center, new home of the rebranded Nets. Brooklyn also made several moves this summer to boost their roster, including acquiring high-scoring shooting guard Joe Johnson in a trade with Atlanta.

Wednesday, March 20 vs. Boston
The venerable Celtics, led by veteran stalwarts Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, play just once a year in New Orleans, a game that is always a big draw. Boston made a few tweaks to its roster this summer, such as adding sparkplug reserve guard Jason Terry.

Wednesday, March 27 vs. L.A. Clippers
The Clippers’ last visit to New Orleans was the most intense Hornets home game of the entire 2011-12 season. Local fans will have to wait until the final few weeks of 2012-13 to see Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, who also stop in NOLA on April 12.

Friday, March 29 vs. Miami
The Heat’s star-studded trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh make their only visit to New Orleans of 2012-13 very late in the regular season. The Big Three’s lone previous trip here resulted in a dramatic Hornets victory on Nov. 5, 2010.

Tuesday, April 9 at L.A. Lakers
Avid New Orleans basketball fans can enjoy a college/pro “doubleheader” of sorts on this date. Earlier in the evening, the New Orleans Arena will host the championship game of the 2013 NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

Sunday, April 14 vs. Dallas
The Hornets host their Southwest Division rival Mavericks in the final New Orleans home game of the 2012-13 regular season. New Orleans prevailed in its home finale last season, outlasting Houston in overtime.

Wednesday, April 17 at Dallas
For the sixth consecutive year, the Hornets will end their regular season in the state of Texas. This marks the second time in the past three seasons that New Orleans plays Game No. 82 at Dallas’ American Airlines Center.