The Cavaliers, who haven’t reached the postseason since 1998, are locked in a tight race with Boston and Miami for the final Eastern Conference postseason berth.
Cleveland continued its push for the playoffs Wednesday, routing Atlanta 112-80 at home for its fifth win in seven games.
Rookie LeBron James scored 24 points to lead six Cleveland players in double figures as the Cavs rebounded from a 92-81 loss at Chicago on Monday.
“We still have to go down to New Orleans and play well,” Cavs coach Paul Silas said. “We’re now only a game and a half out of sixth and a half a game out of eighth. So if we continue this thing we have a chance to get there. That’s what its all about at this point, just playing some quality basketball and keep it rolling.”
The Cavs haven’t won a road game against the Hornets since an 87-77 victory on Feb. 10, 1999, when the Hornets played in Charlotte.
Friday’s game marks Silas’ second trip back to New Orleans. He coached the Hornets from 1999-03, setting the club record with 208 victories before getting fired this past offseason.
The Cavs lost 82-72 at New Orleans on Nov. 26, but won both games against the Hornets at Gund Arena this season.
The Hornets, battling Milwaukee for fourth place in the conference, are coming off a 100-97 overtime victory at home against the Bulls on Wednesday.
Jamal Mashburn scored 27 points and hit the winning fadeaway 3-pointer at the buzzer for the Hornets. Mashburn, who also forced the overtime with a 3-pointer, finished 9-of-26 from the floor.
“No matter what I shoot from the field, I will always have confidence in my stroke and my ability,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of shots like that in the past.”
Brown didn’t expect his team to have such a tough time against the Bulls, considering Chicago has the worst road record in the NBA at 6-23.
“I’m more concerned with us playing well, playing smarter … just playing harder,” Brown said. “I’m glad we won. Don’t get me wrong, but I’m not overly excited because I know we can play better.”
Point guard Baron Davis, who managed just 12 points Wednesday, is averaging 29 points in three games against the Cavs this season.