Okla. City Thunder (27-21, 12-11 road) vs. New Orleans Hornets (26-22, 16-6 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 106.3 (17th), Hornets – 107.2 (14th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.3 (6th), Hornets – 108.5 (19th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.1 (18th), Hornets – 92.0 (20th)
View from the enemy: Hornets 24/7
No rest for the Thunder. No time to be satisfied about a big win 24 hours ago. It’s up and out of Oklahoma City and on to the next one. And the next one happens to be pretty darn important.
The Thunder and Hornets are separated by a game in the standings and with New Orleans already having a win over OKC, the tiebreaker swings their way right now. Last time the two teams met, Chris Paul took over late and OKC couldn’t put the ball in the basket in the fourth. But now there’s no CP3 and the Hornets are struggling just a bit without their star. Good news for the Thunder I guess. (Plus we don’t have to scream and throw things at our TV because Paul won’t be there to take overdramtatic falls and get fouls called for him. No, I’m not bitter.)
New Orleans coming in: Obviously no Chris Paul. But if NOLA has an advantage it’s that they should have the fresh legs since they last played on Monday. In their last 10, NOLA is 6-4. However, without Paul, the Hornets are 1-2. So it’s a whole new ballgame. The Hornets are 16-6 at home though.
Darren Collison has played really well in CP3′s steed. But what’s interesting about his matchup with Russell Westbrook is that the two were tight backcourt mates at UCLA. Collison has been fantastic filling in for Paul, dropping 14 assists Monday night to go along with 16 points. Before that, he had 18 dimes against Memphis. That’s right, he’s averaging 16 assists a game over the last two. That’s impressive. So Russ will have to tap his deep Bruin knowledge to defend Collison.
David West just seems to always have his way with OKC. He’s tough to defend for anyone, but his little step-back jumper always seems to get Jeff Green. Still, Green is playing with renewed confidence and aggressiveness, so I actually kind of like the matchup. West will have to carry the scoring load for the Hornets so Green holding West down a little is extremely large.
Marcus Thornton has picked up a lot of scoring slack, as he netted 25 Monday night. He’s good at getting to the basket and has a nice mid-range jumper. He’ll require Thabo’s full attention. Overall, the Thunder should have the matchup battle won. As well as Collison has played, the Thunder’s bench is deeper and there are just more scoring options for OKC. A big key is keeping Emeka Okafor off the glass and limiting Peja’s open looks from deep.
I really kind of like back-to-backs. Obviously they’re hard to win, but they’re fun as a fan because either you have the good taste of a win in your mouth lingering and you can’t wait to try and do it again, or you want to wash away the bitterness of a loss. This time, we get to ride the momentum of a three-game streak into one.
Tip at 7:00 CST. Go THUHNDAH.