Gameday Dish: Hornets at Nets

The New Orleans Hornets pay their once-a-season visit to the Garden State tonight. The Hornets currently sit in fifth place overall in the Western Conference at 32-21. Coach Monty Williams, the youngest headman in the league at 39 years old, brings his talented and exciting squad to the Prudential Center on a 3-game losing skid, most recently dropping a 104-92 contest to Kevin Love and the Timberwolves in the Big Easy on Monday night.

The Hornets eighth-year PF David West, a local guy from Teaneck, leads New Orleans in scoring at 18.8 per game. The man with the plan running the on-court show for Team Buzz is sixth-year PG Chris Paul.  Paul, the NBA’s 2006 ROY and 4X-All Star, averages 9.8 dimes per game, third best in the league, and leads the team in minutes played at 35.3.

On the defensive end of the court, CP3 is tops in the NBA in steals at 2.55 swipes per game. Starting center Emeka Okafor anchors the interior D and swats away 1.78 bpg and ranks sixth in the league in glass-work with 10.1 rpg. His hustle and rim-protection abilities matched with lead guard Paul’s swarming perimeter presence have made New Orleans the second stingiest team in the league at 92.3 ppg allowed.

New Orleans started the season white-hot, victorious in their first 8 games and in 11 of the first 12. Then, the script flipped dramatically as the Hornets went 5-11 over the next 16 games. They are average at best away from The Pelican State, going 12-14 on the road so far.

So while tonight’s interconference matchup has the Brick City boys playing a formidable foe, at 12-13 at home, almost a .500 clip, the Nets have reason to be confident going into tonight’s game. New Jersey last played on Sunday and lost at home, 105-86. They are also on a three-game winless streak. However, on the sunny side of Prognostication Avenue, the last two times Avery Johnson’s team had three days between contests they came out with their A-game – losing at Phoenix in a tough-fought OT battle and winning in Newark on January 5th against the Chicago Bulls and their do-everything PG Derrick Rose.

With the NBA East lacking the depth of the NBA West, the Nets sit only 7.5 games out of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. So tune in tonight at 7PM ET on YES for game 53 of the 2010-11 season and see if third-year Nets Big Man C Brook Lopez and crew can change things up and a make the Prudential Center a ‘Hornets Net’ instead of a ‘Hornet Nest.’

Czar’s Season Update: On Coaches

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