It seems like only yesterday that we were accepting that the Hornets just aren't as good as the rest of the NBA. Now the Hornets have won back-to-back games in blowout fashion, including tonight's 96-72 beat down of the NBA-best San Antonio Spurs. The Hornets made 12 3-pointers, picked up a season-high 57 rebounds and held San Antonio to just 36.3 percent shooting.
For those counting at home, the Hornets have beat their last two opponents by a combined 65 points (on back-to-back nights, no less) with the second game coming at home in front of the team's third sellout of the season. With the buzz created by 18,000 screaming fans, not to mention the sight of Mitch Landrieu chatting up Jeremy Piven and Trombone Shorty courtside, you couldn't help but feel like, finally, the Hornets were relevant again.
The NBA season, by nature, is a long one. Knowing that, it's hard to get excited about any given game when there's no telling how well a team will perform from night to night. After all, this is a Hornets team that has lost games to Detroit, Indiana, Minnesota and the L.A. Clippers. But anyone who was at the Hive can testify that the Hornets are indeed, at this point in the season, playing on another level. Their eight-game win streak is tops in the league and during that stretch they've won three overtime games and have beaten four playoff teams.
Tonight's game was just something else, though. New Orleans went on a 21-0 run in the third quarter that included a stretch where Emeka Okafor had two blocks in one San Antonio possession and was subbed out to a standing ovation. The amount of positives are too long, so I'll just list them:
—David West had 18 points and 10 rebounds.
—Trevor Ariza and Marcus Thornton contributing with 15 and 18 points, respectively. The pair combined for a perfect 8-for-8 from three-point range.
—The Hornets held the Spurs to just 12 points in the first quarter and to just 10 in the third.
—Okafor finished with 9 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks (tied for his season high).
—Just two Spurs players scored in double-digits and no player finished with more than 11 points.
—With 52 seconds left in the first half, Marco Bellinelli made a three-pointer that put the Hornets up by two. The Hornets would not lose the lead again and the Spurs would score just 36 more points the for the rest of the game.
The Hornets, if nothing else, have proved that they can answer the bell on a big occasion and come through with a dominant performance. Now that this is their eighth win in a row, it seems a lot easier to believe that they can keep doing this for the rest of the season.