That may have been the most exciting game the Hornets have played in the last two seasons. Saturday's game against the Spurs was great because New Orleans took down San Antonio in convincing fashion and the New Orleans Arena once again felt like a hot spot in the city. But tonight's game was something else entirely.
Tonight was one of those moments that fans will remember for years to come. Against a Thunder team just one game away in the standings, the Hornets recovered from an early 15-point deficit, shut down one of the league's marquee scorers in the second half and David West clinched the game with a stunning fadeaway jumper with half a second left.
Not only was it a last-second shot, but it was against a team that had beat the Hornets their past four meetings. And it was in a game played just hours after it was announced that the Hornets had reached their attendance benchmark and are thus guaranteed to stay in the city for one more season. It was all very breathtaking, and yet all very familiar.
The Hornets are piling up wins in every way possible during this nine-game stretch. They've won three games in overtime, two games by more than 24 points and now this one on the final shot of the game. The Hornets have fallen behind by double digits and blown double-digit leads in this stretch, but no matter what, when the final buzzer sounds, the Hornets have found a way to come out on top.
Now the Hornets are in third place in the Western Conference, just 2.5 games back of the second-place Los Angeles Lakers (the Spurs, whom we'll remind you lost to the Hornets by 24 points, are eight games ahead of New Orleans). With the All-Star Break just around the corner, the question is no longer whether the Hornets will make the playoffs, but what seed they'll earn at the end of the season.
Of course, the Hornets are by no means secured a playoff spot. When Chris Paul was briefly hurt after breaking up the Thunder's inbounds pass in the final seconds (the play that ensured West would have the chance to take the final shot), the air seemed to leave the Arena entirely as the franchise lay writhing on the floor. Surely, any injury to Paul — or even to West, Trevor Ariza or Emeka Okafor — could put this team in a hole for a long time. It will be interesting to see what moves, if any, general manager Dell Demps tries to make before the trade deadline to shore up the lineup.
But those are thoughts for another day. Right now, the Hornets have won nine games in a row and they look like they're having a blast doing it. Not only that, but fans can be confident in the believing that New Orleans has the most exciting team in the NBA (at least right now).
Let's just all take a moment and let that sink in.