Hornets-Mavericks: Chris Paul Carries The Torch

Dan GurleyContributor IApril 25, 2008

Coming into these 2008 NBA Playoffs, the skepticism around the Hornets began to spread like mono in a high school lunchroom. Taking the seasoned Mavericks over the playoff virgin Hornets was what Dick Vitale would call "The Upset Special."

Even the all-knowing Charles Barkley picked the Mavs to dispose of New Orleans in the first round. But as we've seen so far, Chris Paul has just plain outshined everyone else on the court, especially Jason Kidd.

I'm not going to throw everyone else under the bus without backing up over my own body. The Hornets weren't supposed to do this.

Dallas, a team with last year's regular season MVP, a team with playoff experience in Terry, Stackhouse, Dampier, Howard and Jason Kidd of all people, should be used to this.

And after last year's embarrassing exit to Golden State along with motivation from Kidd to show trading for him was the right move, I thought the Mavs had the ingredients to at least get by these Cinderella Hornets. I like my crow baked with a side of honey barbecue dipping sauce, thank you.

New Orleans has flat-out balled. Paul is averaging 33 points per and 13 assists per game. Those are video game numbers.

Jason Kidd? He's been modest, to put it kindly: 9 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds per game. That's not bad, but when looking at Paul's numbers there is no debate.

Someone may say, "Dan, New Orleans has just held serve. They are supposed to win at home."

True. The series shifts to Dallas, where, as long as Dallas does what they need to do, we'll be back in New Orleans knotted up at two. But I don't see that happening.

Chris Paul is playing at such a high level, and his supporting cast ain't too shabby either. Tyson Chandler is chipping in his usual double-double, averaging 10 and 13. David West and Peja Stojakovic have each stepped it offensively, bringing their scoring averages higher than in the regular season.

The way this team has come together, I see them getting one in Dallas, then finishing the Mavs off in New Orleans.

As much as I'm surprised by these upstart Hornets, I'm equally as disappointed in the Mavericks.

The title was theirs in 2006, but D-Wade had other ideas. In 2007 they were a favorite to win it all. And then...yeah. And now this.

What's next for Mark Cuban? Cut his losses and buy the Cubs? Wait, that's an oxymoron.

The Mavs could hold serve, beginning tonight, and make this a series. I just don't see it happening given how CP3 is playing. The torch has not been passed, but snatched by Paul.