|NBA: Portland Blazers at New Orleans Hornets Preview & Picks|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Friday, 02 November 2007 07:00|
Battle in New Orleans
The Hornets looked right at home in New Orleans in their season opener.
They'll be trying to put on a similar show for their home fans on Friday when they face the Portland Trail Blazers.
Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made New Orleans -8 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 200 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 74% of bets for this game have been placed on Portland +8 (View NBA Bet Percentages).
Wednesday's 104-90 win over Sacramento was the first of 41 regular-season home games the Hornets will play in their first full season in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina struck on Aug. 29, 2005. The team spent most of the past two seasons in Oklahoma City, playing only nine regular-season games in New Orleans during that span.
Despite big crowds in Oklahoma City, majority owner George Shinn decided to bring the team back to the Big Easy.
"I think the fans are really behind us, and I think we gave them a show," said Tyson Chandler, who had 15 points and 13 rebounds. "I think we gave them a reason to really come back and get behind this team."
Chris Paul had 22 points and 12 assists for the Hornets, who were 24-17 in home games last season and 15-26 on the road. Paul led last season's team with 17.3 points and 8.9 assists per game.
Peja Stojakovic had 19 points, David West added 17 despite a recent ankle strain and newly acquired shooting guard Morris Peterson scored 13. New Orleans shot 50.6 percent from the field, the second-best opening-night shooting performance in team history.
"You have no clue how big of a smile I had on my face during that game," Paul said. "As a point guard, when you're getting into the lane, D-West is making shots, Tyson is there making everyone collapse and, most of all, Peja and Mo made my job tonight so easy. That's really going to open the court for us this season."
Stojakovic missed all but 13 games last season because of back surgery.
"It's the first game, 81 to go. I just wish we can all stay healthy, because then it's up to us," Stojakovic said. "Consistency, of course, is going to be a key."
New Orleans is hoping for similar success against the Trail Blazers, who have dropped three straight and five of six on the road against the Hornets.
Portland lost its opener on Tuesday, falling 106-97 to the San Antonio Spurs. The Trail Blazers are without No. 1 draft pick Greg Oden, who had microfracture knee surgery this summer, ending his first season before practice even began.
Still, they managed to pull within three points in the final quarter against the defending NBA champions.
"We were definitely looking forward to having Greg," said Martell Webster, who scored 21 points. "That doesn't stop our journey. Our journey is to get to the playoffs. ... Can't say anything about championships. Mostly, we want to take this one game at a time."
LaMarcus Aldridge had a game-high 27 points but Brandon Roy, last season's Rookie of the Year, managed only seven while matched up against defensive star Bruce Bowen. Roy averaged 16.8 points last season.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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