NEW ORLEANS ― Monty Williams is undefeated as a head coach.
The magnificent trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh is not.
Five games into the season, tell me you saw that coming.
But lo and behold, the rebuilt Hornets are 5-0 after an impressive 96-93 win Friday night against the Miami Heat, sending not so much shockwaves as eye-opening ripples through the NBA world.
Maybe now this football-crazy city might just start opening its eyes and realize that what’s going on in the New Orleans Arena is every bit the equal to what’s happening in the Dome right across Girod Street.
“Yeah, this is really fun,” Hornets forward Trevor Ariza said. “Really fun.”
Against the Heat (4-2), a sellout crowd of 17,988 that included such luminaries as Reggie Bush, Robert Meachem and Pierre Thomas along with more than a dozen of their Saints teammates as well as just-released-from-prison Lil’ Wayne saw the Hornets do something different for this franchise.
It’d be easy right here to say get to 5-0, which is a franchise best.
But the more apt statement is play defense.
“I think we’re really prepared to play these games,” Hornets forward David West said. “A set game plan and a particular way we’re going to guard their best player or tonight, they’re best three players or whatever. We didn’t allow those other guys like (James) Jones and Eddie House and even (Udonis) Haslem to really impact the game in key stretches.
“That was all a part of our preparation of what we’re trying to do from start to finish.”
He’s not lying.
Wade did finish with 28 points, James did have 20 and Bosh did add 15. The rest of the team combined for 30 points.
But New Orleans gave up only 30 points in the paint, only 9 second-chance points and only 8 fast-break points while forcing 13 turnovers.
“We can’t just show up because of the jerseys we have on,” James said. “We have to play.”
Friday night, it was the Hornets that came out and played.
It would be easy to look at the one-time 14-point lead the Hornets gave up and question how good New Orleans really is.
But I look at it a different way – when New Orleans was pushed with its back against the wall against arguably the most-talented team in the NBA, the team responded.
Marco Belinelli hit two free throws and then Ariza hit a clutch 3-pointer with the shot clock bearing down on zero and the Hornets holding a precious one-point lead.
"I'm not surprised that we're 5-0 because during preseason I saw glimpses of what we could potentially become,” Hornets center Emeka Okafor said. “We're not quite there yet. We make a lot of mistakes but we're finding ways to earn wins while we kind of figure ourselves out."
That’s what has inspired Williams so far.
“I don’t want to make light of that,” Williams said. “At the same time, it’s just nice to be a part of a group that plays hard every night. I like the start. I love winning. But different guys are stepping up.”