Funny how you don’t hear anyone these days wishing the Hornets had stayed in Oklahoma City. The first year after the Hornets returned to New Orleans — after temporarily relocating two seasons in the Ford Center as New Orleans recovered from Hurricane Katrina — fans that had invested emotionally in Chris Paul and the team pined for what might have been. The Thunder’s 98-83 win over the Hornets on Wednesday night was another reminder that Oklahoma City fans are just fine with how things turned out. "I think this is a far better opportunity for the city,” said season ticket-holder Scott Sachs of Edmond. "This is a far more talented team. They’re a young, talented team that’s only going to get better.” What a difference two years make. Two years ago, the Hornets’ first season removed from the Ford Center, they won 56 games, earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and weren’t eliminated until Game 7 of the second round of the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Sonics finished a franchise-worst 20-62 in what proved to be a lame duck year in Seattle before moving that summer to Oklahoma City. Two years later, the Thunder is viewed as the NBA’s on-the-rise team, a lock to make the playoffs and on pace to win 50 games. In contrast, the Hornets are one game below .500 with almost no chance of making the playoffs, their future in question because owner George Shinn continues to slash payroll. Paul several times the past two years said his only regret his two seasons in OKC was the Hornets never brought the playoffs to the Ford Center. "They still have a ways to go to make sure they get in, but they would have a lot of fun,” Paul said. "It would be something this city deserves.” The Thunder is a lock to finish ahead of the Hornets. With Wednesday’s win, Oklahoma City won the season series 2-1 to clinch the tiebreaker. If the Thunder goes 10-9 or better they’re assured of finishing ahead of New Orleans even if the Hornets finished 17-0. In a startling turnaround, the two franchises are headed in opposite directions. "This is our team,” said Jay McIntosh of Oklahoma City. "The Hornets needed to go back to New Orleans for that city. Seattle didn’t want their team. We got them. (Thunder) players have put a lot into the city. With these young players it’s only going to get better.” David West, who thrilled fans with Ford Center buzzer beaters, said OKC fans are like a former teammate that’s been traded. You can’t help but be thrilled when something good happens to them. "They have a great fan support base here, a great environment,” West said. "It will be an even different atmosphere for the playoffs. They will make it tough on teams that come in here that will have to play a young, feisty team that plays hard.” Text "OKTHUNDER” to 65360 for your chance to win an Adidas Thunder #22 Jeff Green Away Jersey! NewsOK OKC Thunder news text alerts sponsored by Totally Tickets.