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Sonics at Hornets: Pre-game and In-game discussion

Here's the place to flap your yap...err...fingers about tonight's game. If you haven't already, start off by checking out Kevin Pelton's Insider Preview. Just so you can get a taste for what KP writes, he used the following to start his article:

The performance on the court of the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets has been a much-needed shot in the arm for a franchise that has dealt with entirely too much negativity in the recent past. A year ago, the Hornets tied for the league's second-worst record with 18 wins, but couldn't even earn a top-three pick, finishing with the fourth pick. Obviously, the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina created much more significant problems for the city's residents than for the basketball team, but it did leave the Hornets homeless a month before the start of training camp.

I would guess that I'm not the only one who would never have guessed that at this point in the season the Hornets would have 5 more wins than the Sonics. Chris Paul has played at an amazing level for a rookie, and I would not be at all surprized to see him on the bench for the All-Star game. That means Luke Ridnour has his work cut out for him tonight. Ray Allen has a favorable matchup, and it'd be nice to see Ray heat up and go off tonight. Rashard vs. Mason is always interesting, and last year Mason got the better of Rashard in the head to head matchups. Rashard has quietly put together another very good season, but I seem to feel that he still has a level or two more that he can and hopefully will achieve. From time to time we see glimmers of it, but then you have a half where he effectively disappears on the court. The PF matchup is a tough one with David West playing quite well for NO/OkC. My understanding is that Nick Collison may be getting the starting nod tonight, and if he does hopefully he is able to neutralize West without committing too many fouls early on. The center matchup tonight is youth and promise vs. age and experience. PJ Brown has long had my respect for the way he plays the game, but here's hoping he has a rough night. Robert Swift has been taking a few lickings in the post this past week, so here's a chance for him to get things going again.

Tonight's intangibles will be stopping Chris Paul, Rashard Lewis in the post (KEEP THROWING HIM THE BALL!!!!), and whether or not Vlade Radmanovic makes a positive contribution.

Go Sonics!