Whipping the Hornets is nice; but to be fair, they only won a single play-off series last year, and we beat the team that they lost to, in 5 games.
Yes, the Hornet are good, but right at the moment, they are still working through some things. Just 7 days ago, the Hawks beat them on this very same court.
From Bill Simmons today . . .
"Only the Hornets seem to be going the wrong way. A popular preseason pick that struggled early because, as the theory goes, it's easy to jump Point A to Point B and harder to go from Point B to Point C, everyone keeps waiting for the Hornets to turn things around. Including me.
"After sitting a few rows behind their bench for Monday's game against the Clippers, I realized the Hornets' problems went deeper. You can tell from the stands when teams are happy and everyone is on the same page. For instance, I watched the Spurs beat the Clippers without Manu and Parker-Longoria; as long as Duncan and Popovich are around, and as long as they keep building around character guys, things can't splinter for them. That Pop-Duncan foundation is just too strong. You could see it during every timeout huddle, you could see it with how they interacted and supported each other, and you could see it with the way they carried themselves. When Roger Mason drained the game-winning 3-pointer, there was no chest-pounding or pointing to God, just a quiet fist pump and a leisurely walk back to the huddle. It's a professional team in every sense.
"The Hornets gave me a different vibe. They seemed a little detached, surprising since they have so many character guys on the team: Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler, David West, James Posey. Really, their only chemistry wild card is Mike James and he barely plays. I mistakenly believed it would be one of those lovefest teams that players josh around during the shootarounds before each half and hug each other too much. Nope. Midway through the second quarter, I asked my friend Tollin, "Are we sure the Hornets like their coach?" After all, the Nets practically revolted against Byron Scott four years ago. So there is a precedent.
"We studied the Hornets for the next hour like marriage counselors. The good news is that, when you attend Clippers games, you inadvertently earn a Ph.D. in "How To Tell When a Team Despises Their Coach." Even the football team in "Varsity Blues" liked Bud Kilmer more than the Clippers like Mike Dunleavy. If he doesn't get fired soon, I would put 10-to-1 odds on a timeout huddle this year when everyone slowly closes in around him, we won't be able to tell what happened for about 30 seconds, and then they'll back away to reveal the coach in a bloodied, unconscious lump.
"Anyway, that Ph.D. comes down to paying attention to the little things. The way players walk toward the bench after a timeout. (Goes one of three ways: "I'm interested to hear coach's thoughts," "I look forward to sitting down" or "Great, I get to listen to this bonehead again.") How fast someone jumps up when the coach calls for them as a sub. (If they jump up fast, that means they're totally in the game; if they jump up slow, that means they were either daydreaming about that night's sexual conquest or imagining he's punching the coach in the face.) Whether they listen or don't listen in the huddle. The body language of the coach himself. And the telltale sign ... what happens when a top player gets called over by coach when someone is shooting free throws.
"This can unfold one of three ways:
"A. Player runs over respectfully and seems genuinely interested in the coach's wisdom. Watch what happens when Popovich calls over Duncan or Parker in a Spurs game. Total respect. They look like someone jogging over to a police officer.
"B. Player jogs over, doesn't seem totally interested, but doesn't want to seem like a jerk either. This usually sums up 75 percent of the league.
"C. Player does a double-take and his head kicks back briefly (like he's thinking, "Really, I have to talk to this guy again???"). He saunters over disdainfully. When he reaches the coach, he makes eye contact for the first two seconds, then starts subconsciously pulling away (first with his eyes, then with his body leaning back toward the coach), and at about the six-second mark, he just starts walking back toward the court whether the coach is finished talking or not. Everything about the exchange says, "I've just had it with this freaking guy."
"I mistakenly believed that Chris Paul and Scott had an "A" relationship but in the second half of Monday's game, it was revealed that they were a "C." At least right now. Translation: I am no longer sold on the 2009 Hornets."http://sports.espn.g...mp;sportCat=nba