Saturday, March 13, 2010

Two Minutes May Have Blown the Hornets Season

Posted By on Sat, Mar 13, 2010 at 4:29 AM

Photograph by Jonathan Bachman



click to enlarge Melooo


It must be completely maddening to be a Hornets fan right now. As if teetering around .500 for most of the season isn't enough, it seems as if every game that passes distances the Hornets even further from playoff contention (they're currently 6.5 games back of the eighth seed). All this while David West puts up All-Star numbers and rookies Darren Collision and Marcus Thornton continue to produce in tough losses.


Friday night's 102-95 loss against the Denver Nuggets was almost like a microcosm of the Hornets' season. David West put up 30 points and six rebounds, Thornton scored 23 points and Collison registered a double-double with 17 points and 10 assists. And yet a game that had been close throughout fell apart in the span of around 2:30 minutes in the fourth quarter.


With the score tied at 86 with 6:05 left in the game, the Hornets proceeded to committed two fouls, two ridiculous turnovers and suddenly, with 2:46 left in the game, New Orleans was down by 10 and fans were walking dejectedly towards the exits. The Hornets are now falling completely out of the playoff picture, and every opportunity they have to build momentum seems to fall short.


Anyone who thinks that the Hornets are better than their record suggest are clearly deluding themselves into a better reality that what the rest of us see. Without Chris Paul in the lineup, the Hornets have steadily fallen farther and farther out of playoff contention. New Orleans has lost eight straight games against Western Conference teams that would be in the post-season if the playoffs started tomorrow. Their last win against a potentially playoff-bound team was January 30th against Memphis.


As a playoff-less future comes closer to being the present, the Hornets are a team in limbo. Ever the competitor, Paul is dying to return to the court, even if it may be too late to rally his team to the post-season. Collison has played admirably in Paul's absence and, having already played 40 or more minutes 18 times this season, letting him play out the season may be in the team's best interest.


There is also the issue of West. He's playing head-and-shoulders above his teammates and, with the ability to opt-out of his contract after next season, rumors abound as to just how long he will be playing in the Crescent City. The Hornets are a relatively young team with an emerging core of players that could carry them in the years come, as well as a slew of contracts that expire after next season. As the present starts to slip away, you have to look toward the future. Then again, trying to figure out what's in store for this team in the coming months may be as maddening and watching them play right now.

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