Big Easy Buzz Blog - November 30, 2010

Hornets seventh in multiple power rankings

Tuesday, November 30, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer,
Each Tuesday over the remainder of the 2010-11 NBA regular season, we’ll be looking at where the Hornets are listed in power rankings by national websites. Here are this week’s rankings from around the Internet: (7th, down 5 spots): “The Hornets still have the most improved defense in the league by far, but that defense showed some more cracks in their three losses last week. And they have three top-10 offenses on their schedule this week, including the Spurs again on Sunday. You could certainly call it a critical stretch for Monty Williams' group.” says:New Orleans held its first 10 opponents under 100 points, but there was no way anyone could’ve reasonably expected the Hornets to continue at that clip for much longer, especially given the brutal nature of the recent schedule. Williams mentioned frequently during the 11-1 start that the team was starting to show some slippage defensively, but since the Hornets were still winning games, it went largely unnoticed. Still, during the recent 1-4 stretch, NOLA lost twice despite holding the opposition under 100 points, so the offense needs to pick it up as well to get back to the earlier winning ways. (7th, down 6 spots):“Apologies to the Hornets, who are 4-4 since that 8-0 start and bookended the week with a loss to the Clips and a fall-from-ahead L to the Spurs for their first home defeat. Looks as if the rankings’ jinx still has some juice.” says:Marc Stein is referring to the somewhat chaotic nature of the early NBA season, in which several teams started out extremely well but have gone through semi-rough stretches (such as the Hawks, Warriors and Hornets). The potentially good news for New Orleans is that the schedule turns a bit favorably in December. Through the first 17 games, the Hornets faced 13 foes that qualified for the 2010 playoffs. In the month of December, among the 16 opponents, only eight made the ’10 postseason. (10th, down 7 spots):“The Hornets have been full of surprises. Begin with the wholly unanticipated 11-1 start, games won through the tried-and-true methodology of team defense by a committed blend of holdover stars (Chris Paul, David West) and incoming role players (Marco Belinelli, Jason Smith). It was a formula built to endure, so of course New Orleans immediately spit the bit, dropping four of five and being outscored by an average of 12 points in the fourth quarter of its last three defeats. Logic says that reality for the Hornets lies between their impressive start and their feeble recent stretch. Unless we want to blame everything on newly acquired Jarrett Jack – who, come to think of it, has been wretched in his brief Hornets tenure – the third surprise of the season would be if New Orleans fails to regroup and buckle down for a legitimate playoff run.” says:The fourth-quarter woes have been very uncharacteristic for the Hornets during the Chris Paul era, with New Orleans consistently posting excellent records in games decided by 3 and 5 points or less. Paul said after Monday’s defeat at Oklahoma City, when New Orleans was outscored 27-19 in the fourth quarter, that he holds himself responsible for close losses. The Hornets’ offense has gotten stagnant in crunch time of late, often not attacking until the shot clock gets into the waning seconds. In the most recent losses to Utah, San Antonio and Oklahoma City, the Hornets have mustered just 15, 18 and 19 fourth-quarter points, respectively. (7th, down 6 spots from 1st the previous week): “They brought in PG Jarrett Jack to boost the offense, but he started off 6-for-20 from the field in his first three games with the team.” says:Jack has now played five games for the Hornets and is 7-for-23. For fans who have not seen him play much during his six-year NBA career, I can see how you may be a bit concerned by his initial performance. But give him time. He’s been a starting-caliber point guard for the bulk of his career and generally shoots the ball well, as evidenced by his 45.0 career field-goal percentage. He’s at 35.0 percent from three-point range.