The New Orleans Hornets play the Los Angeles Lakers tonight in Game 4 of their first-round NBA playoff matchup. Excuse us if that sounded a little more formal than usual, but we think it's appropriate considering this may be New Orleans' final shot to see this team play in person.
Yes, after stunning the Lakers — and much of the sporting world — with a nine-point win over the two-time defending champions at the Staples Center, the Hornets have been knocked back down to reality with 9- and 14-point defeats in games 2 and 3.
The Hornets, it seems, are just not big, strong or talented enough to deal with the Lakers, who sport two seven-footers in their starting lineup and have the league's sixth-man of the year coming off the bench. The Hornets bench, meanwhile, has sputtered after a phenomenal game one and has scored just 22 points in the past two games.
Right now, even the most optimistic Hornets fan (this writer included) has started to look forward to what will sure to be another tumultuous off-season in which we could see an NBA work stoppage and we'll find out if there is someone in Louisiana that's interested in buying the Hornets and keeping them in New Orleans.
But let's not lose sight of all the great things to remember from this season. Chris Paul seems to be back in his old form and, whether or not he's playing here after two seasons, it's a delight to get to see him work his magic some 41+ games a year. Let's not also forget the magic that Monty Williams has been able to sprinkle on this team, which has become a tenacious, defensive-minded squad that is lethal on the fast break and has the opportunity to grow into one of the league's best (that is, should general manager Dell Demps be allowed to seek new talent in free agency).
Of course, that's little consolation for anyone wishing that the Hornets season go on longer than tonight and game 5 on Tuesday in Los Angeles. But the fact remains that not many people expected the Hornets to win even a game in this series, who's to say they don't win another?
Game on. We're in. Are you?