The New Orleans Hornets are in their 20th year as an NBA franchise - and right now, they’re nearly as hot as they’ve ever been.
The Hornets will try to match a franchise record with their 10th straight win on Wednesday night when they host the Golden State Warriors.
New Orleans (32-12) won 10 straight Feb. 21-March 13, 1998 while still based in Charlotte. N.C. The franchise relocated to Louisiana in 2002.
The Hornets have struggled to attract fans since the move and were forced to play all of 2005-06 and most of last season in Oklahoma City, Okla. after damage from Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, but their current run should help — seven of their wins during their current run have come at home, where they are 16-7 this season.
“As long as we continue to play like we’re playing, I think it’s not only fun for us as a team but it’s fun for the crowd,” point guard Chris Paul said.
The Hornets are averaging 107.6 points during their streak and have outscored their opponents by nearly 21 points per game. David West has led the team with an average of 20.1 points during the streak, while Paul is averaging 15.9 points and 12.6 assists.
Paul had 23 points, 17 assists and nine rebounds in Monday’s 117-93 win over Denver, bolstering his case for an All-Star nod as coaches select reserves later this week. Paul outplayed the Nuggets’ Allen Iverson and was treated to chants of “M-V-P” from the home crowd.
“The only thing that’s on my mind right now, to tell you the truth, is to get my coaches in the All-Star game,” Paul said. “I’m looking at the standings all day, every day, right now. I think that would be the greatest feeling for me if (Scott) could coach in that game.”
New Orleans and Phoenix, which beat Atlanta 125-92 on Tuesday, are in a virtual tie for first place in the Western Conference standings.
“I am not ready to jump on their bandwagon, but they’re pretty good and I’m not sure what weakness they have,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “Chris Paul is a great point guard. He can go anywhere he wants to go.”
The Warriors (27-19) lost for just the third time in 10 games on Tuesday, falling 111-107 in Houston. Stephen Jackson had 25 points and Baron Davis chipped in 21 for Golden State, which scored in triple-figures for the 10th straight game.
The Warriors nearly came back from a 21-point first half deficit.
“We dug too big of a hole and it was just too tough to climb the ladder,” coach Don Nelson said.
Earlier in the day, the Warriors signed Chris Webber, who has not played since Detroit lost to Cleveland in last season’s Eastern Conference finals. Webber was drafted by Golden State in 1993 and was named the NBA’s rookie of the year, but demanded a trade after clashing with Nelson and was sent to Washington in November 1994.
Nelson and Webber both said they would have no problem working with each other this time.
“He’s one of the best passing big men to ever play the game,” Nelson said. “That’s going to really help us. And then he’s going to increase our team IQ. He’s a very smart player. And he’s another big man, he makes us one more deep all along the roster.”
Nelson said Webber would join the Warriors on Thursday when the team returned to Oakland.