Game On: Thunder @ Hornets

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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 “bit” 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 don’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. They’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 it’s worth, that’s brought the team’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 it’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 “New Orleans Resurgent”. Personally I prefer to use phrases which reference the Hornet being a flying insect that can sting, so I’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 Paul’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 don’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.

Injuries

Thunder: None

Hornets: Trevor Ariza — right ankle tendonitis (probable), Aaron Gray – 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. That’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. I’ll be there and I’ll put up details as soon as I possibly can. Hopefully it’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.

105 comments
NOEngineer
NOEngineer

I'm very disappointed in Joe Gerrity's column in ESPN's daily dime today. After a few semi-positive comments to start, he proceeds to say that (despite beating 3 playoff teams in a row by a total of almost 70 points) we have no chance in the playoffs. Citing the names of our bench players as proof, he says we need a trade for some other team's back-up. I saw our bench hold their own against San Antonio's fabled deep bench, and start the come-back against OKC last night. Mbenga and Smith looked pretty good in the process. Thanks for a brilliant use of your national platform, Joe....

42
42

I think we will make the playoffs and do some damage. I don't think we can win the title as constructed. We are on an upward trajectory and have great hope, but this year is not the year. To win the title in a poor as fashion possivle, you have to go 16-12 againt, probably, stiffening competition. I don't think we can 'Spurs' the Spurs 4 more times, for instance. I hope we can, I just don't think we can.

JCS
JCS

The Captains save the day. Fitting.

George
George

That was a strange ending, I hope Chris is alright looked like he was in a lot of pain. If it wasn't for that steal though we might not now be on a 9 game win streak! That last shot by David was beast.

Ron
Ron

How the heck did the Bees win?

Foerever504
Foerever504

when paul went down i think my heart actually stopped

thekeymaster
thekeymaster

holy mother of god!!!! i just went through about 70 different emotions in 2 minutes

BIGBREED
BIGBREED

DWest...................................SWEET!!!!!

Ryan
Ryan

DAVID WEST JUST SAID PUT ME IN THE ALL STAR GAME!

mbdtf
mbdtf

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

pinoyballah
pinoyballah

im watching this on espn gamecast and it says cp3 stole the ball!!! damnit... screw you broken streams!!

Foerever504
Foerever504

he did steal it and then he went down

George
George

How many times do they have to hit Chris tonight! far out I can't stand to see this

Ryan
Ryan

NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

pinoyballah
pinoyballah

haha....i dont know what play was drawn up, but i would rather have west or paul shooting it not thornton

Ron
Ron

Yeah. 3 of 12 tonight. Brrrrrrrr!!! But he was +19 in 27 min (and was "only" +15 at end of 3Q), so even though his stat line stinks, he seems to have done *something* right...

Ryan
Ryan

Win or lose....................... GREAT GAME FELLAS!

thekeymaster
thekeymaster

great the hornets are trying to give me a heart attack again...

pinoyballah
pinoyballah

aiight...cp3 gets in for a cuople sec and makes his mark...now to get green out and put in ariza to guard durant

mbdtf
mbdtf

Chris Paul is an insanely good defender!!!

mbdtf
mbdtf

I was about to give Green credit for running the floor twice to finish, and then he fouls Harden on a 3.....

peronas
peronas

Willie Green = this evenings cleanup crew

Matt
Matt

One of your announcers is impossible to listen to. (The other is quite good) I mean, I know he's a Hornet announcer, so you expect bias, but I don't think I could even listen to him if I was a Hornet fan. Nice 8-0 run btw & GL! Disclaimer: Thunder fan :)

peronas
peronas

Man our guys can't stay off the floor tonight

mbdtf
mbdtf

Damn these refs suck.

JayRey
JayRey

WOOT! We will win ths game hopefully....never count out the Hornets

Foerever504
Foerever504

man you just gotta love CP3

thekeymaster
thekeymaster

ya i love cp3 but i hate it when he's hitting the deck as often as he is tonight.

thekeymaster
thekeymaster

what a great 2nd quarter, Mbenga and Marcus coming up big. It seems like Marcus has worked a lot on his playmaking skills judging by his last 8 games or so.

pinoyballah
pinoyballah

so far D and Offense picking up in the 2nd quarter just like the last 2 games... lets hope it continues in the 3rd also like the other games!

peronas
peronas

12 points for OKC that quarter. Much much better.

mbdtf
mbdtf

Amazing 2nd quarter!

peronas
peronas

Freaking ridiculous....

Foerever504
Foerever504

damn MT thats ok just hit the next 1

peronas
peronas

Beautiful pass by Thornton

mbdtf
mbdtf

MT5 keeping us in it.

Foerever504
Foerever504

where the hell is west

thekeymaster
thekeymaster

looks like he got 2 fouls in the first qt. but i can't verify the legitimacy of them since i didn't see them.

peronas
peronas

33 pts in the first quarter is not going to get it done. Need to get this game back into our pace and get stops

thekeymaster
thekeymaster

wow i missed the first half of the 1st. besides durant and westbrook ballin' whats going on in the game?

mbdtf
mbdtf

No defense from the bees.

thekeymaster
thekeymaster

that just sounds counter intuitive b/c you think they'd be pumped up to play okc and to try and top their recent defensive beastness