Looking to move up in the Eastern Conference playoff standings, the New Orleans Hornets hope to take full advantage of the league-worst Cleveland Cavaliers—something they didn’t do the last time the teams met.
The Hornets came out flat in Cleveland on Saturday, shooting just 34 percent and losing 79-76 to the hapless Cavaliers.
The defeat was the fifth in seven games for New Orleans, which is 3 1/2 games behind Indiana for fourth place in the conference with five to play.
“I thought we might have taken them for granted a little bit, but we definitely didn’t come out with the energy that we should have in the first half and that cost us the game,” Hornets center Jamaal Magloire admitted.
“I thought we really looked bad tonight and we owe them one.”
Jamal Mashburn scored 23 points for the Hornets, who were missing backcourt starters David Wesley and Baron Davis and leading rebounder P. J. Brown. Wesley (bruised left foot), Davis (strained left knee) and Brown (ankle) are all listed as day-to-day.
“People were out, but no excuses,” Mashburn said.
The Hornets have won eight straight at home against the Cavs since Feb. 10, 1999, including a 102-76 victory on March 7.
“This was a great experience, to play against the greatest of all-time,” Davis said. “It’s something I can tell my grandchildren.”
The Cavs need one victory in their final five games to avoid matching the worst record in franchise history. They went 15-67 in their inaugural 1970-71 season and again in 1981-82.
STANDINGS: Cavaliers - 8th place, 32 GB, Central Division. Hornets - 3rd place, 5 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Cavaliers - Davis, 20.6 ppg and 5.5 apg; Ilgauskas, 7.5 rpg. Hornets - Mashburn, 21.6 ppg; Baron Davis, 6.6 apg; Brown, 9.0 rpg.
SEASON SERIES: Hornets, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: Saturday; Cavaliers, 79-76. At Cleveland, Davis scored 17 points for Cleveland, which blocked a season-high 13 shots. The Hornets were outscored 36-20 in the paint.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Cavaliers - 3-35 on the road; Hornets - 26-12 at home.
INJURIES: Cavaliers - G Dajuan Wagner (knee). Hornets - G Davis (knee); F Brown (foot); G Wesley (foot); F Kirk Haston (back); G Bryce Drew (calf).