In his short time as Hornets head coach, Monty Williams has established himself as someone who wants keep the focus on his players and the game of basketball. His frustration during the offseason was palpable every time someone asked about whether Chris Paul would be traded.
But then the Hornets started the season 11-0 and everyone started talking about this surprise team and their playoff chances. Then they lost six-of-eight and questions started coming up about the team's adjustments.
Now, the big story is the NBA's purchase of the Hornets and the team's dire financial numbers being leaked. Before tonight's game, Williams fielded close to six minutes of questions that were exclusively about the team's ownership situation. Though there isn't much he could say (after all, he's just the coach and has no say in who owns the team) he dutifully asked every question.
The Hornets then went on to post one of their biggest wins of the year, a 93-74 shellacking of the Detroit Pistons.
It was complete domination. New Orleans held Detroit to just 37.5% shooting, outscored the Pistons 42-28 in the paint and led by as much as 25 at one point. Marco Belinelli had a season-high 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, David West led everyone with 25 points and Chris Paul made up for scoring just six points by dishing out 14 assists (he also played less than 30 minutes, which is always a good sign).
Could it be that this team is most focused when everything around them seems to be spiraling into chaos? Well, it'd be hard to prove anything like that after just one game. But considering that this team just suffered one of its worst defeats of the season at San Antonio and was then informed of the NBA's ownership within a few hours of that, tonight's win is nothing but impressive.
Hornets players and coaches have talked about how they can only control their play on the court. There's no telling if this team will find a local buyer before the potential lockout next season or whether they will even be able to stay in New Orleans. Hell, this team can't even guarantee that stellar play will fill the stands.
But from the outside looking in, it's sometimes easy to forget that, for the team's players and coaches, this remains a job. As Monty Williams said before tonight's game, "worse things can happen" to a team than being bought by the NBA. Yes, it's a unique moment and a challenge that the organization will face. And yes, it will be the subject of water cooler talk and countless words from the media.
But none of what's happened in the last few days changes the fact that the Hornets have to suit up every other night and play basketball. All this team can do is continue to play at a high level. After all, nothing will attract a local owner more than a winning team. Here's hoping the Hornets keep it up.
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