What hopes do all 16 teams have of hopping in the postseason driver's seat? Take a ride with NBA.com as we outline each team's Keys to Success.
Game, set, Mash. Jamal Mashburn
has been arguably the most dangerous man on the floor for the Hornets. He'll hurt you off the dribble. He'll hurt you from behind the arc. He'll hurt you under the basket. And he'll hurt you with the dish. Mash is one of just four players in the NBA -- Kevin Garnett
, Tracy McGrady
and Antoine Walker
are the other three --
ranked in the top 30 in scoring, rebounding and assists. His 20.1 points per game is tied for 24th in the league and his best scoring output since 1994-1995. His 7.5 rebounds game and 5.4 assists per game are career numbers.
Combine size and seasoning, and you get key shot blocking in Elden Campbell
. The 10-year veteran center leads the Hornets in blocks per game with 1.79, ranking him 15th in the league. Combine youth and speed, and you get the Hornets' top pickpocket in Baron Davis
. Davis leads the team and is fifth in the NBA in steals with 2.07 per game.
KEYS IN THE KEY:
Forget stars. The Hornets' performance in the key features an ensemble cast. The Hornets have become one of the top rebounding teams, ranking seventh in the league with 44.3 rebounds per game. Chairman of the boards? P.J. Brown
, with 9.3 per game. Other top members of the boards include Campbell (7.8), Mashburn (7.5), Derrick Coleman (5.4) and Davis (5.0).
When it comes to point men, Baron Davis is truly the dish. A candidate for the NBA's Most Improved Player, Davis has come into his own as the quarterback of the Hornets' offense, leading the team with 7.3 assists per game, good enough for a tie for 11th in the league.
KEY WIN, KEY VID: After running out to a 20-9 record, the Hornets went into a nosedive, losing 17 of their next 24. The Hornets got back on track with a solid 103-93 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on February 17. The Hornets then reeled off six straight wins
and won 12 of their next 14.
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With spirits low, losses accumulating and homecourt advantage in the playoffs becoming a distant memory, the Hornets had a chance to begin to turn things around against the ailing Knicks on April 9. Allan Houston
and Larry Johnson
were in street clothes on the bench and Latrell Sprewell
was coming off a recent injury. The Hornets took the lead in the early going but quickly unravelled, floudering on defense and dropping a 113-98 decision
for their fourth straight loss.
As Eddie Robinson
's minutes have increased, his productivity has skyrockted. Robinson has now shot 50 percent or better from the field in 29 of his last 33 games, averaged 10.7 points and 57.7 percent from the field in his last 23 games and become a key offensive threat off the bench for a Charlotte team that has struggled offensively of late.
KEY LONG-RANGE GUNNER:
The Hornets have a three-headed triple-threat in Mashburn, Davis and David Wesley
. Each are shooting the three at better than 30 percent, and each can hit the
pressure shot. Wesley has been the most damaging, hitting 96 of 257 for just over 37 percent. Mash, however, runs a very close second.
KEY INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE:
Last season, a tired Hornets squad found itself ousted early. This year's team will need to stay fresh against a revitalized Miami team.
In the February 17 win over the Bucks, Mashburn truly did it all. Mashburn led all scorers with 32 points, tied for the team lead in boards with 10, tied for the team lead in assists with nine and led the team in steals with four. He also logged more minutes than anyone on the floor with 43.
Never mind the millenium, the Hornets are all about the century mark. The Hornets are 20-3, including 11-0 at home, when scoring at least 100 points. They are 1-11 when allowing 100 points or more. During the Hornets' March run, they dropped in 100 points in four consecutive games, winning three of four. In their last eight games, the Hornets have scored 100 points just once, posting a disappointing 4-4 record. One more tidbit: Paul Silas notched his 100th win as a Hornets head coach on February 22.
Rookie Jamaal Magloire
has provided the perfect complement to Campbell at the center position. Magloire not only allows Campbell to stay fresh but has posted more than respectable numbers, with 4.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg (eighth among rookies) and 1.05 bpg (fourth among rookies, 38th in the NBA).
Charlotte is a team full of upstarts. P.J. Brown has already bested his career-high of 670 rebounds in a season. Baron Davis' scoring average is up 8.0 points from last season. Jamaal Magloire has been a sleeper standout among rookies. Jamal Mashburn's putting up his best numbers in six seasons. E-Rob's shooting touch and confidence have been on fire as of late. David Wesley is having a career year. And Elden Campbell has posted his best numbers of the season in the last six games.
Derrick Coleman. Used at varying times throughout the year, the result has often been the same. With him, the Hornets are 12-21. Without him, they are 34-14. More importantly, Coleman has contributed to the team's dipping morale. With memories of last year's weary team and early playoff exit still fresh, Paul Silas has turned to his bench, most notably Coleman, in an effort to rest his starters. The result? Losses in eight of
their last 14 and frustration throughout the roster. In the Hornets' loss to N.Y., Coleman was 0-for-2 with four fouls and two turnovers in 14 scoreless minutes.
The Hornets signed free agent guard/forward Scott Burrell, a former Hornets first-round draft pick, for the remainder of the season on April 10. After disappointing defensive performances of late, particularly from the guards, the Hornets are hoping that Burrell's reputed defensive prowess is still in effect.
Jamal Mashburn's father, Bobby, is a former heavyweight fighter, who fought Ken Norton and Larry Holmes and sparred with Muhammad Ali. When the gloves come off in the postseason, Mash and the Hornets will need to do a better job of keeping their guard up or they could be headed for another early round knockout.