NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 13 -- As of Jan. 7, the New Orleans Hornets were 2-29 -- having already absorbed an eight-game losing streak, a 10-game losing streak and an 11-game losing streak -- and on pace to win just five games.
Since then, the Hornets have gone 8-12 and avoided tying the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers' NBA record for fewest wins in a season (nine) when they beat Golden State last Friday.
As the Wizards prepare to face the Hornets on Monday, Coach Eddie Jordan calls them a "dangerous" team and credits the turnaround to the stoic personality of Coach Byron Scott, his boss for four seasons in New Jersey.
"Byron is a guy, it's hard to get him ruffled or worried. He has a great composure about himself. He's tough as nails," Jordan said. "He has a calmness about him that's good for his players.
"He's got a lot of confidence. I'm sure when they were struggling, he said: 'We're not going to get the record, that's for sure. Matter of fact, we're going to surprise some people and get more wins than you think.' That's the kind of person he is."
After losing his first three games against Scott (when Scott was coaching the Nets), Jordan beat Scott for the first time on Dec. 12, when the Wizards defeated the Hornets, 88-69, at MCI Center.
Jordan said: "It doesn't mean anything going against Byron. He's a guy I worked with, and we had a lot of excitement, a lot of good times. There is no extra incentive going against Byron." . . .
After his players loaded the team bus in preparation for practice Sunday, Jordan changed his mind and gave his team the day off. With road games here Monday and against Houston on Tuesday, Jordan said the challenge was keeping his players focused before the all-star break. "The break is something we're all looking forward to, as far as reenergizing, regrouping," he said. "It's almost like Christmas. You try to keep your poise, try to go about the daily activities but it's always on your mind." . . .
Starting forward Jared Jeffries went 0 for 8 in a loss to the Pistons on Saturday, the most shot attempts without a field goal by a Wizards player since Gilbert Arenas missed all 12 attempts in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 17. "I didn't play as well as I wanted to," Jeffries said afterward. Jeffries has gone 2 of 18 for 10 points in the past three games. . . .
Jordan and Scott were once traded for each other. In 1983, the Los Angeles Clippers drafted Scott with the fourth overall pick and later traded him, and center Swen Nater, to the Lakers for Jordan and Norm Nixon. Jordan would rejoin the Lakers that season, playing with Scott on a team that lost in the NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics in seven games.
-- Michael Lee