COMMENTARY | After spending virtually the entire first half of the 2012-13 NBA season at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, the New Orleans Hornets are no longer in last place. Thanks to an incredible stretch of winning six of seven games, the Hornets recently passed the Phoenix Suns in the standings.
The best thing about the Hornets passing the Suns is that New Orleans truly earned it. The Hornets haven't just been playing .500 basketball and the Suns haven't been on a 10-game losing streak. If the Hornets truly want to make this NBA season interesting, they're going to need higher aspirations than just passing teams like the Suns.
It can't be a mere coincidence that the Suns and head coach Alvin Gentry parted ways almost immediately after New Orleans vaulted ahead of Phoenix in the standings. I think most NBA experts assumed New Orleans would finish the season as the worst Western Conference team and when the Suns suddenly had a worse record, they felt it was time for a change.
I wonder how Eric Gordon feels about the Suns now.
The next team ahead of New Orleans in the Western Conference standings is the Sacramento Kings. Currently, the Kings are only 1.5 games ahead of the Hornets. Although Monty Williams has done a great job of keeping the Hornets together through trying times, the Kings are a mess thanks to DeMarcus Cousins.
What baffles me more than anything is that Cousins continues to be the subject of trade rumors. Cousins is so much of a problem that I wouldn't take him as a Christmas present. The Hornets will face the Kings on Monday in a game that could see New Orleans move into sole possession of 13th place in the standings.
Western Conference standings
In the end, it doesn't matter who's in 13th or 14th place in the Western Conference standings. All that matters is finishing in the top eight. Remarkably, the Hornets are now only seven games out of eighth place. With 43 games left on its schedule, New Orleans definitely has time to make up that difference.
I'd like to see the Hornets, who are currently 13-26, get within 10 games of .500 by the end of January. Then New Orleans only has to win five more than they lose in February and March to reach .500. Finally, if the Hornets then play well in April, they will make the Western Conference playoffs.
Patrick Michael was born in New Orleans and currently resides in the Big Easy. A loyal New Orleans NBA fan, Patrick was a diehard New Orleans Jazz fan and now cheers for the Hornets. Patrick was in attendance the night the Hornets were one win away from the Western Conference Finals. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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