Thursday, December 31, 2009

If the Hornets only played at home, they'd be unstoppable

Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 4:54 AM

click to enlarge Chris Paul robbing D-Wade


Photograph by Jonathan Bachman


The Hornets 95-91 win against the Miami Heat tonight was notable as much for what it wasn't as much as what it was. To be more specific, this was a Hornets victory against a strong opponent at home and not, as many of the post-game questions noted, another road loss. (I realize this all sounds obvious and confusing, but bear with me).


At 12-3 the Hornets have one of the best home-win percentages in the NBA, comparable to league powehouses like Denver (13-2), Orlando (13-3), Cleveland (13-2) and Boston (10-4). It's a shame that the Hornets have to play road games, because their two wins away from New Orleans Arena is less road wins than all but three NBA teams (New Jersey, Chicago and Charlotte). What's more depressing (at least for Hornets fans) is that if New Orleans could must to just got to around .500 on the road (say 7-8 instead of their current 2-13), their overall record would be 19-11, good for fourth overall in the West, six spots ahead of their current standing.


"If I there is any way I could bottle up a formula for that I'd sell it to every team in the NBA," Devin Brown said. "We're trying to do anything we can to play this way on the road."


All jokes aside, the home-court advantage for the Hornets this year is mystifying (especially considering that the Hornets are in the bottom third of the NBA in home attendance). With the home win against the Heat coming off a tough road loss against Houston the night before, the home-road discrepancy is stark.


"We're just not able to put together complete games [on the road]," David West said after tonight's victory. "We're able to do that at home, to make key plays."


That was the pervailing sentiment among Hornets players and head coach Jeff Bower, all of which preached the line that if the Hornets just made one or two more plays a game on the road, they'd have a much better record. In all fairness, the Hornets did play their best road game all season in the loss to Houston (mainly because of Chris Paul's triple-double and David West's career-high 44 points), but the line about just needing to make one ore two more plays doesn't apply to the seven road games they lost by double digits.


But while a majority of the questions asked by us media folk had to do with the home-away discrepency, many of the answers looked at the big picture of the season. Time and again players talked about just finding a way to win games - David West said "we just gotta pick up wins" and one of Chris Paul's New Year's resolutions is "to win a few more games" - like that wasn't an obvious goal before.


"I'd like to focus on the success we've had a home," Bower said, seemingly frustrated with the endless obsession about his team's road woes. He does have a point. Right now, there aren't many other positive things the Hornets can focus on.

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