Published: January 24, 2011
Matchup: Thunder (28-15) @ Hornets (29-16)
Off Efficiency: Thunder 107.4 (6th), Hornets 103.0 (17th)
Def Efficiency: Thunder 105.0 (16th), Hornets 98.5 (3rd)
Pace: Thunder 95.8 (11th), Hornets 91.1 (30th)
The Hornets look to continue a fantastic January against the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight in front of what is expected to be another big crowd. With the last two games being absolutely blowouts, anything less than a huge win is going to be a bit of a disappointment. I say â€œbitâ€ because in reality a win of any sort against OKC would just be one more step along the way toward relevance, both in the national media and in the minds of locals who donâ€™t already bleed Creole Blue.
Since the New Year struck the Hornets have won 10 of 12 games, putting them in a position to move into the third seed out West with a win tonight. Theyâ€™ve done it behind a stifling defense which just shut down both the high powered Spurs and Hawks on consecutive nights.
“We can’t be satisfied,” coach Monty Williams said.
Well coach, the locals are satisfied and they are showing it through ticket sales. The team has averaged 14,963 fans in the month of January. For what itâ€™s worth, thatâ€™s brought the teamâ€™s average attendance all the way up to 14,367. Not only is that not place last like the Hornets were earlier in the season, but itâ€™s all the way up to 24th, ahead of big market cities like Atlanta, Philadelphia and New Jersey. Now obviously those teams have a much easier time finding corporate sponsors, and for the most part can charge more for tickets, but still, the Hornets are averaging more fans and filling a higher percentage of their building than all of them.
Combined, the on court performance and willingness of fans to buy tickets has led to what Ryan Schwan has dubbed â€œNew Orleans Resurgentâ€. Personally I prefer to use phrases which reference the Hornet being a flying insect that can sting, so Iâ€™ll call it a Bee-Surgence for lack of a worse made up word.
The national media is already starting to take notice of the Bee-Surgence, and you can bet your sweet behind that if the Hornets win tonight, the casual flirting is going to turn into a full fledged love affair. Think of it this way- Nine in a row is nearly ten in a row. Ten is a big round number. Big round numbers are shiny. The media likes shiny things. Therefore if the Hornets win ten in a row, the media will like them, just like they did earlier in the season.
The love could even reach levels unseen since 07-08 because of all the drama that has surrounded the team lately. From a sad summer riddled with rumors of Chris Paulâ€™s alleged unhappiness, a complete front office overhaul, and a winless preseason, to the ownership situation falling apart, and an attendance problem, this has been a tough year to be a Hornets fan. They are just about the ultimate underdog in the NBA. Hell, they donâ€™t even have a real owner. And national TV? I think there has been one game on so far, and there is one more scheduled. It’s about time that changed.
This is the third time (first and second) the Hornets and Thunder have matched up this season, with the Thunder taking both contests. Dating back to last year, they have won four in a row over the Hornets.
The Thunder (9th) and the Hornets (5th) both are in the top 10 in total rebounding rate.
The Thunder (2nd) have an advantage over the Hornets (11th) when it comes to turnover rate.
As far as strategy goes, it remains the same as it was in the other games. Pound the ball inside to West and Okafor over and over and over and over.
Hornets: Trevor Ariza — right ankle tendonitis (probable),Â Aaron Gray â€“ high sprained ankle (out)
A few more things that have little to do with this actual game
- Nene is supposedly unhappy in Denver and wants out. Thatâ€™s my pipe dream for today.
- There is a pre-game press conference with the mayor, governor, Hugh Weber, and Jac Sperling taking place at 5:00 today. Iâ€™ll be there and Iâ€™ll put up details as soon as I possibly can. Hopefully itâ€™s not just the official news that we beat the attendance deadline, since we already know that.
- Chris Paul is getting absolutely no love from MVP predictions so far, even though he should in all reality be one of the favorites so far. I’ll get into that tomorrow, though.
- All of the Hornets starters average double figures in scoring.
Notes from the Arena
And check out our friends at Daily Thunder.