Over the ensuing six weeks, however, reality has begun to set in for the CP3-less Hornets. Although Collison has been outstanding more often than not and done about as well as you could possibly imagine in his unexpected role, New Orleans is just 6-12 over the past 5 1/2 weeks. The Hornets are 11-16 overall in the 27 games that Paul has not played in 2009-10, not terrible given the way many NBA teams might fare without their best player, but a record that has dropped New Orleans to 5 1/2 games out of eighth place in the Western Conference.
New Orleans is 21-17 in the 38 games that Paul has started, but upon closer examination, if you take away the 3-7 start to the season, the Hornets have gone 18-10 since Dec. 4 with Paul available. Thats a winning percentage of .643, a pace that translates to 52 wins over the course of an 82-game season. Its a statistic that again demonstrates why the early-season hole the Hornets dug has been so costly.
When the Hornets were at full strength in January, they put together a string of impressive road victories at Oklahoma City, Utah and Portland. Last night, two months after their Jan. 6 triumph in OKC, the Hornets only had nine players in uniform. The Thunder posted a relatively easy 98-83 victory. Those differences in outcomes at the Ford Center and the major difference in the health of the Hornets roster provide telling snapshots of New Orleans fortunes this season.