Opening a stretch of five straight games against sub-.500 teams, the New Orleans Hornets continue their push for home-court advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Hornets begin the stretch against the lowly Washington Wizards at the MCI Center.
Over the next 10 days, the Hornets will face Washington, Chicago, Cleveland, Toronto and Miami. New Orleans is tied with the Milwaukee Bucks for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference—a spot could be crucial in the postseason.
With the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds meeting in the first round, both New Orleans and Milwaukee will both badly want home-court advantage should they play each other.
At 23-8, Milwaukee has the second-best home record in the East, but is just 9-19 on the road. New Orleans, 19-11 at home at 13-16 on the road, has a chance to move a half-game up on the idle Bucks.
Davis scored 14 points during an 18-3 run in the final period, but it was not enough as the Hornets fell 97-92.
Davis led New Orleans with 24 points and 10 assists. Jamal Mashburn added 21 points and nine rebounds, while Jamaal Magloire and P.J. Brown had 14 and 12 points, respectively. Magloire and Brown each 10 rebounds, giving the Hornets three players with double-doubles.
“We just ran out of time,” Davis said.
While not in playoff contention, the Wizards suffered another setback this week, as swingman Jerry Stackhouse announced he will miss the remainder of the season.
Stackhouse spoke with coach Eddie Jordan and his teammates after he scored 20 points in 31 minutes in Saturday’s 122-110 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Stackhouse has missed most of this season with an injured right knee.
“They see me laboring out on the floor,” said Stackhouse, the team’s leading scorer last year. “It takes a toll on my whole body. … I’ve got to get back to being Jerry Stackhouse.”
The Wizards will now likely look to Gilbert Arenas for scoring. Arenas had 35 points in the loss to the Lakers, and tied a franchise record with eight 3-pointers.
“Gilbert was terrific,” Jordan said. “It’s just hard to match up with Shaq. We threw all of our bigs at him pretty much, and you just can’t do a whole lot with him.”
STANDINGS (through Feb. 28): Hornets - 3rd place, 11 GB, Central Division. Wizards - 6th place, 18 GB, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Hornets - Davis, 23.0 ppg and 7.8 apg; Magloire, 9.5 rpg. Wizards - Hughes, 18.7 ppg; Brown, 7.1 rpg; Arenas, 4.8 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Hornets, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 18; Hornets, 120-98. At New Orleans, Mashburn scored 26 points, while Davis had 23 points and 13 assists as the Hornets posted their highest point total of the season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hornets - 13-16 on the road; Wizards - 12-17 at home.