Very few of us actually cheer for the Hornets to win at this point (although, I'd imagine it's all epidemic from here on out). While everyone else is worried about the Jazz and Suns (fun game by the way) battling it out for the eighth and final playoff spot and worrying about who has home court here or who has home court there or who has to rest anyone here coming up, everybody is resting players down at the bottom of the NBA. Except for the Bobcats, they're just that bad. While the Hornets have spent all year pretty much with their feet kicked up, basking in the lottery glory that is the NBA's Cellar, that damn Monty Williams and the return of Eric Gordon (in brief cameos) has resulted in the Hornets, instead, winning in the month of April and playing spoilers to everyone except for the Golden State Warriors.
A Warriors fan chimed in, during the game thread, about how badly his team was going to try and tank tonight. Well the Hornets tried to one -up him, but accidentally fell into victory with an 83-81 final score. Marco Belinelli does nothing when anybody wants him to do good and seems to hit everything when anybody wants this team to lose, and rightly came up big tonight in Oakland. For the record, he's done well against his former team every time that they've played during his two years in the Big Easy. The Hornets were without their entire starting five: Jarrett Jack, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza, Jason Smith and Emeka Okafor and possibly their best bench player in Chris Kaman. Yet, they were matched by the Warriors who sat Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut, David Lee, Nate Robinson, Dorrell Wright and Andris Biedrins (remember when he was good?). I might have even preferred to watch the injured players hobble around on the court and attempt to put on their own game, but I don't want to do a disservice to the guys that do show up and play nightly for these teams.
Let's face it, this is in an impossible situation. You suit up missing so many players, it's been such a long and hectic season and you know it's all over in a couple of days. A lot of the guys that are still playing are those playing for their futures with the team, their futures in the league and for next season's paycheck. Whatever motivation they have to get into, the Hornets players and coaching staff should be commended for still competing regardless of who puts on the jersey on a nightly basis. It's a tired thing to say, but Monty Williams deserves heaps of praise for his work with this franchise this year. I'm ecstatic that there's no rumors running around about Tom Benson wanting to shake up the front office and the coaching staff. These guys have done a job that can't simply be measured by wins and losses.
But, to most fans, it's still frustrating to see the team be in last place in the Western Conference all year and blow it at the end. It's its own little race for the teams at the bottom to try and push each other in line for the most ping pong balls. Liken it to a Great Depression line for chicken noodle soup. Any extra ping pong balls means a greater odd to get Anthony Davis, and some teams just don't care how bad they look in getting the part. With one game left for most teams, here's how it stands. Charlotte has clinched the worst record in the league (and possibly the worst percentage in a regular season in NBA history). With the Hornets win tonight, the Washington Wizards have clinched the second worst record. As it currently stands, the Hornets and Sacramento Kings are tied for the third worst record at 21-44. The Kings, however, won the season series and hold the unfortunate tiebreaker. So as it stands, the Hornets still have the third worst record in the league. If they lose against Houston or if Sacramento wins, they will be guaranteed the worst record in the Western Conference. However, Cleveland is sitting at 21-43. And although we want to point and laugh at Sacramento for holding the tiebreaker with us, we hold the tiebreaker with Cleveland. So if Cleveland loses out (they play the Wizards tomorrow), they will be sitting with the third worst record in the NBA.
The Hornets no longer control their own destiny. They must lose and root for other losses to give the fans what they truly want. But seeing the way the team has competed this year and all without ever being fully healthy, what's wrong with two top ten picks anywhere in that vicinity? And that's the beauty of a draft lottery. Only one out of every three times does the worst team in the NBA ever get the first overall pick. Maybe the Hornets efforts and competitive nature will be rewarded with good spirits on the night the draft order is revealed.
Until then, there's one game left, people. Enjoy what's left of this season and what could be the last game for the New Orleans franchise with the Hornets name.