Chris Paul emerged from a scrum under the basket, nimbly dribbling out to the perimeter to reset another Hornets possession.
A jubilant crowd rose to its feet, chanting, "M-V-P, M-V-P!"
Perhaps local fans are figuring out they don't need visits from players like Allen Iverson to bring them out to the games. They have a star of their own, not to mention one of the best teams in the NBA right now.
Paul had 23 points, 17 assists and nine rebounds, and the New Orleans Hornets ran away with their ninth straight win, 117-93 over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night.
Down the stretch, the crowd repeatedly chanted superlatives in recognition of a masterful performance by the Hornets' third-year guard, who is New Orleans' best hope for a representative in the All-Star Game when coaches elect the reserves this week.
Other candidates include center Tyson Chandler and forward David West, as Paul was quick to mention when asked what he thought of the MVP chants.
"I was thinking they're exactly right," Paul said. "D-West and Tyson might be MVPs."
Even in a game featuring Iverson, recently elected an All-Star starter, Paul was the best player on the floor. Iverson also scored 23, but had only three assists and got little help other than from Kenyon Martin, who scored 18.