Intentional Upset: Make Way for the Hornets
As the NBA reaches its mid-point, there are a few surprising story lines, but none are quite as big as what the Hornets have cooking down in Louisiana. For a team that was expected to finish in the middle of the pack, the Chris Paul-led Hornets have taken the Western Conference by storm and actually have the best record in the NBA’s “tougher” conference.
Playing to chants of “MVP,” Paul led his team over the Denver Nuggets 117-93. In dispatching the Nuggets, Paul had 23 points, 9 rebounds and 17 assists, meaning he was directly responsible for at least 57 of his team’s 117 points. When asked about the chants, Paul simply offered, “I was thinking they’re exactly right. D-West (David West) and Tyson might be MVPs.”
Not only did the victory solidify the Hornets position as the West’s best team, it also signified a potential changing of the guard. Nuggets All-Star starter Allen Iverson drew the Paul assignment last night but it was clear that while AI may be the starting All-Star, Paul was the by far the best player on the court.
What’s surprising about the Hornets is not Paul’s play, although, I’m not sure people would’ve predicted his MVP-like season thus far. No, it’s the fact the Hornets are leading the Western Conference with the best record and they are second behind the Celtics for the best record overall. Again, these are all surprises. No one expected the Hornets to be this good, this quickly.
The question now is can they sustain it for the rest of the season, of which, about 40 or so games remain? As long as they don’t get bitten by the injury bug and Paul keeps playing at this incredibly high level, then there’s no reason why they should fall back to the pack. However, in the NBA, the regular season takes a huge backseat to the playoffs.
Can the Hornets do the unthinkable and represent the West in the NBA Finals? Well, considering how Paul and the rest of his crew are playing, that’s not such an unthinkable premise any more.