by Micah Hart
As everyone knows by now, the compressed NBA schedule will force every team to play three games in three nights at least one this season (42 times in total). With only 66 games to stake a claim to a playoff spot or seed, how teams perform during these killer slates could have a large impact on how their seasons turn out.
With that in mind, we’re going to keep track of each of the 42 three-plays to see which teams take advantage and which teams fall apart. Up next, the New Orleans Hornets, who played three straight from Feb. 20-22.
The Nets, formerly one of the worst teams in the league, put together a surprising 8-point effort in their three for all earlier in the week. Can the Hornets, their brethen of the basement, do the same? They’d have their work cut out for them, as not only would all three games be on the road like the Pistons and Heat, but they’d be at the tail end of a five-game road trip.
Game 1: Thunder 101, Hornets 93 - Oklahoma City had won ten straight at home, and was 13-1 overall in their own building coming in. So yeah, not a real surprise the Hornets fell short. They deserve credit for battling, as after falling behind by as much as 26 in the third, they cut the Thunder lead to just six with a minute to go. Still an L though. -2 points
Game 2: Pacers 117, Hornets 108 - A step closer to a win, as New Orleans takes the game into overtime before falling short at Indiana. Jarrett Jack had 19 points and 10 assists off the bench. -1 point
Game 3: Hornets 89, Cavaliers 84 - Success! The Hornets get the win at Cleveland, which may not seem like much at first but Cleveland has been surprisingly competent this year, thanks in large part to future Rookie of the Year winner Kyrie Irving. The award is Irving’s to lose, but he was gawd-afwul in this game, scoring a season-low six points on 2-13 shooting. Chris Kaman continued a bit of a resurgence since rejoining the Hornets, dropping 21 and 13. No one has said why he suddenly chose to play instead of sit out and await a trade, but my theory is he got a taste for some jambalaya at Acme and decided New Orleans wasn’t so bad after all. 6 points (5 for win, 1 for road)
Pretty tough slate, and though the Hornets end up with just 3 points, they improved in each game. They even finished the road trip 3-2, and with the season already a lost cause, that’s something to be proud of.
Up next: The Minnesota Timberwolves take their second crack at the threeplay, with three straight contests Feb. 28 – Mar. 1.
Three for all Top Ten:
— Miami Heat (15 points)
— Chicago Bulls (13 points)
— OKC Thunder (12 points)
— New Jersey Nets II (8 points)
— Atlanta Hawks (8 points)
— Houston Rockets (7 points)
— Portland Trail Blazers (6 points)
— L.A. Clippers (6 points)
— Philadelphia 76ers (6 points)
— Denver Nuggets I (6 points)