The Other Side: New Orleans Hornets
Former Washington Wizard Antonio Daniels faces his old team for the first time since he was dealt to New Orleans in that three-team trade on Dec. 10. The Wizards have gone 2-8 since making the trade, while the Hornets have gone 7-2 -- although that has more do with the talent on each team than Daniels's influence.
The New Orleans Hornets (18-9) have won two in a row after an embarrassing 20-point loss to Orlando on Christmas Day. After hosting the Wizards, they will go on a difficult four-game road trip against Portland, Denver, the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah.
The Hornets trail San Antonio by ½ game in the Southwest Division, but they are finally getting back to full strength after dealing with injuries to key pieces most of the season. After missing the previous five games with back spasms, Peja Stojakovic returned for the Hornets' 105-103 win against Indiana on Sunday.
Here's what else you need to know about the Hornets:
1. Don't Mess With Chris Paul
In case it wasn't clear last season, when he finished second in voting for the league's most valuable player award, Chris Paul is the best point guard in the NBA. He's averaging 20.1 points, an NBA best 11.4 assists and recently had his NBA record streak of 108 games with a steal snapped on Christmas Day. He's one of the nicest guys in the league off the floor, but he is also one of the fiercest competitors once the ball goes up. So why push him?
On Sunday, a fan in Indianapolis decided to heckle Paul when Paul was waiting at the scorer's table to enter the game late in the fourth quarter. Paul scored 11 of his 19 points in the final 3 minutes, 36 seconds, then found David West open for the game-winning jumper. Afterward, he ran to the scorer's table and told the fans, "That was all your fault." Take that as a lesson.
But can somebody help out Paul's marketing team with his commercials? I saw this Right Guard ad on Christmas Day and had to scratch my head several times. I couldn't laugh or cringe because I was so troubled. Sexy pits? Huh? Here it is:
2. Tyson Chandler Is Slumping
The Hornets had two all-stars in Chris Paul and David West, but there were times last season when Tyson Chandler made it seem like the home team should've had three representatives in New Orleans last February. He was the exciting, alley-ooping, rebounding, shot-altering presence who consistently provided a spark for the Hornets.
Chandler's production had improved in his first two seasons playing with Paul and for Byron Scott in New Orleans, averaging 10.7 points and 12.1 rebounds since he was traded from the Chicago Bulls. But he has been slowed by an ankle injury and some neck stiffness this season and he has been limited to just 8.7 points and 8.1 rebounds.
Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen recently mentioned Chandler in his list of five trades that needed to happen before the Feb. 19 trade deadline. Thomsen said Chandler should be moved to Detroit for Rasheed Wallace to help the Hornets get under the luxury tax threshold. Chandler said he doesn't pay attention to trade speculation.
Chandler will forever be the player the Wizards didn't choose with the No. 1 pick in 2001. He also has a blog on NBA.com. It may not be as entertaining as Gilbert Arenas's - really, whose is? - but he does let you in on his world. He recently had a son named Tyson II, whom he refuses to call "T.J."
3. Antonio Daniels Already Has as Many Wins as the Wizards
Since making his debut with New Orleans on Dec. 14 in Toronto, Antonio Daniels has played six games and New Orleans has won all six. Think about that. In about three weeks, Daniels has as many wins as the Wizards have had all season.
He missed two games because of a sore right knee, and the Hornets lost both. Daniels is averaging 3.7 points and 2.2 assists for New Orleans, which nearly matches his production this season for Washington (5.1 points, 3.6 assists) even though he is playing almost half the minutes (11.8 compared to 22.2). The Hornets are excited about making the addition of a veteran, pass-first point guard with a championship ring. Daniels said he knew that he was going to get traded and wasn't upset when it happened.
December 30, 2008; 2:59 PM ET
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