The Hornets are struggling, but what does it mean?



The Knicks Amare Stoudemire scores against the Hornets

After a blistering start to their season, the Hornets have now dropped five of their last eight after losing 100-92 to the New York Knicks tonight at the New Orleans Arena. The Bees aren't defending with their early-season tenacity and they aren't executing as efficiently.

But what does this tell us about the Hornets going forward?

First off, it should be noted that New Orleans was without the help of David West, who did not dress due to a stomach virus. His production was definitely missed but he had nothing to do with the 19 Hornets turnovers that the Knicks turned into 29 points.

Surely, Coach Monty Williams is getting a daily lesson in what it means to adjust on the fly in the NBA now that teams have had more time to scout his schemes. He's also learning about keeping his team motivated. As he said after the game, the Hornets lacked urgency throughout the night and were sloppy with the basketball — two things that will kill even the best teams.

But all this means is that the early-season honeymoon is over. The Hornets are no longer going to surprise any teams and everyone is aware that Chris Paul and David West (when not puking his guts out) are back in All-Star form. Heck, Trevor Ariza had 21 points and nine rebounds and Emeka Okafor posted 11 and 14 tonight, so it's not like the Hornets are playing terrible.

The Knicks, though, have taken advantage of some of the weaknesses the Hornets were able to mask in the beginning of the season. Namely: New Orleans lacks consistent shooters and their bench can go hot or cold depending on the night. Most importantly, the Hornets thrive on effort and are not a good enough team to fall back on talent.

And that just may be it: the Hornets are a good-but-not-great team that is experiencing growing pains. As they get comfortable with Williams' schemes and reacting to other teams adjustments, we will see this team continue to grow.

It would also help if this team held onto the ball long enough score. Cause, you know, that's the point of the game.

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