It was over when Kyle Korver drained two free throws to give Chicago an eight-point lead with 25 seconds remaining. New Orleans was in position to potentially pull off a big upset without the services of four-time All-Star guard Chris Paul, but the Hornets came up empty on several key late possessions. NOLA finished its Mardi Gras road trip at 2-3 and will head back to the Crescent City with 11 of its remaining 16 games at home.
Hornets MVP: Over the first couple months following Jarrett Jacks arrival in New Orleans, it was somewhat common for fans to wonder why the team was so excited about acquiring the sixth-year point guard. Jack often struggled, playing below his standard from previous seasons and teams. Its much clearer now. Jack has been extremely impressive in recent weeks, leading the Hornets in scoring average during the road trip. He had a Hornets-best 23 points Monday, a big reason NOLA had a chance to prevail in a game few probably thought they could win.
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Carl Landry notched 10 points, the third time during the five-game road trip that he compiled double-digit scoring. With Paul unavailable, which moved Jack to the starting five, Monty Williams only used eight players and Aaron Gray played just 3:26. Willie Green backed up Jack at point guard during the rare stretches where Jack rested, but struggled big-time offensively, going 3-for-13, with several of those misses in the fourth quarter
The buzz on an extremely lengthy and welcomed stay at home. Despite a concussion sustained by the teams best player and a rough start in Toronto and New York, the Hornets managed to get through their longest road trip of the season relatively unscathed in the Western Conference standings, keeping several pursuers such as Memphis at bay for now. Their reward? A five-game homestand and an unusually cushy next few weeks schedule-wise.
Due to the handful of upcoming home games, along with a rare four-day break between games following the March 19 capper vs. Boston, the Hornets wont have to leave the Big Easy again until March 23. That 16-day stretch of home cooking could serve the team well as it tries to get healthy and prepare for what hopefully will be a successful stretch run and push to a playoff berth.
In fact, the Hornets will spend a total of only nine days the rest of the 2010-11 regular season outside of Louisiana, with a five-day trip in late March and a pair of two-day trips in April. Even more favorably, the road games in April are to Memphis and Dallas, two of the shortest flights in the NBA from New Orleans.
Blog question of the night: The Hornets begin their five-game homestand Wednesday vs. Dallas, followed by tilts against Sacramento, Denver, Phoenix and Boston. How many victories among the five games would qualify as a successful homestand for New Orleans?