Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Hornets are winning games in spades, but what does it mean?

Posted By on Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 4:14 AM

You can excuse Hornets fans for being a little giddy after tonight's 108-94 win over the L.A. Clippers. For one, it was the largest home win all season, their 12th-straight win against the Clippers and, since they've just one eight of their last eleven games, the Hornets are just one game out of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. Oh, and they surpassed 100 points, giving everyone in attendance a free chicken wrap at Popeyes!

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And yet, with any kind of joy it's always nice to take a step back and look at the reality of the situation. Of their last eight wins, only two were against opponents with a winning record (Utah and Houston). And despite winning by 14 tonight, the Hornets still gave up 23 second-chance points and were out-rebounded 46 to 38 (the Hornets also only secured nine offensive rebounds off of 42 misses, not good).

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"I didn't feel overall that our execution was at a high level," coach Jeff Bower said. "I thought it was OK. It was good enough tonight."

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Key phrase: "good enough tonight." What may be good enough against the 17-20 Clippers is not going to be good enough against teams like the Spurs (whom the Hornets play next Monday) let alone powerhouses like L.A., Dallas and Denver. By Bower's own admission, this team is still a ways off from being a true contender.

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"Based on what I watch and the goals and pictures in our heads of how we want to play, with the efficiency we're capable of, we have a long way to go," he said.

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That said, there's no denying that the offense is starting to come together. Every Hornets starter scored in double figures and they registered 26 assists to just six turnovers. That, combined with a strong defensive effort, is what put the Hornets over the hump tonight.

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"We're starting to learn that, on the defensive end, if we can get stops when we need to, that we're pretty good," Devin Brown said.

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The Hornets can be pretty good, and they can also be pretty bad. Luckily for them, they look like they're getting better before they get worse. But the Hornets are at a point in their season where how wins come about isn't as important as them actually getting those wins. Asked if he realized his team shot over 50 percent on the night, Chris Paul delivered what has become the mantra for this team:

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"I'm just trying to get wins," he said. "I could care less how many shots we take or how many shots we missed."

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