My, how far the Hornets have come in 8 days

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Darren Collison HOOOOOLLLLLLAAAAA

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Photograph by Jonathan Bachman

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In the course of eight days, the Hornets have gone from being humiliated by the Suns by 20 points in Phoenix to winning 110-103 with a brand new coach and scheme in New Orleans. Energy. Motion. Fluidity. It's been a long time since those words consistently described the Hornets offense, but they all applied during tonight's thrilling victory.

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"Coach wants us to play with confidence," said guard Devin Brown, who finished with 19 points. "We're going to spread the floor. We're going to get the ball to Peja. We're going to get the ball to David West. If we can do that, it's goign to show how deep our bench really is."

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Five players scored in double figures for the Hornets while all but one player that saw the floor tonight (Bobby Brown) registered four or more rebounds. If nothing else, the Hornets have proven how effective they can be against one of the NBA's best teams by simply moving the ball, spreading the court and hustling for offensive rebounds. Telling stat: New Orleans threw up 97 shots tonight. While they missed 58 times, they had 25 offensive rebounds, extending possessions and keeping Phoenix from unleashing their high-powered transition offense.

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"The number of field goal attempts [was important], regardless of how many went in" coach Jeff Bower said. "Just to have that many attempts gives you a chance."

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Whether it be the usual suspects (Peja Stojakovic, 25 points; Okafor, 13 points and 12 rebounds) or the rookies (Darren Collison, 15 points; Marcus Thornton, 19 points) all sorts of players shared the offensive burden. And while Thornton was the sub of the game (and a fan favorite after attending LSU) it was the speedy Collison stood out. He was a blur all over the court, directing the offense, shadowing Steve Nash, grabbing rebounds and absolutely taking over in the final stretch, going 3-of-4 for 11 points and making all his free throws all in the fourth quarter. In terms of "blowing up", Collison's career is a notch or two down from Pompeii.

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"His decision making, his ability to creat shots fo our other players, bot interior and in the perimeter [was excellent]," Bower said.

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Just over a week ago, this franchise seemed adrift in all the wrong directions. Now there seems to be nothing you could look at negatively. The season, though, is not even 20 games old and a lot can happen between now and Febuary when the playoff races heat up. But in terms of encouraging signs -- the way players really seemed to enjoy themselves, the noise coming from the crowd, the win over an early-season conference powerhouse -– the Hornets have many to pick from.

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