If the New Orleans Hornets want to secure home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs, they are going to have to play better on the road.
New Orleans looks to snap a seven-game road losing streak as its begins a stretch of eight of its final 11 contests away from home with a matchup against the Atlanta Hawks.
The Hornets are 24-14 at New Orleans Arena. But on the road, they’re just 13-20 and have lost seven straight since an 89-75 win over the Indiana Pacers in their first game after the All-Star break.
New Orleans is in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, which would give it home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, but the Milwaukee Bucks are within striking distance of overtaking the Hornets.
New Orleans snapped a two-game skid on Tuesday night, getting a last-second leaner from 11 feet out from Jamaal Magloire to beat Detroit 82-81 and end the Pistons’ eight-game winning streak.
“Maybe we can take a lesson from this game,” Hornets coach Tim Floyd said. “I’m just proud of our guys’ effort. We came off two very, very difficult losses and it really would have been easy to hang their heads.”
Thursday’s matchup with the Hawks in Atlanta is the Hornets’ first of eight road contests over their final 11 games of the season. New Orleans begins a five-game trip to the West on Tuesday, and will also visit Milwaukee and Washington in the last week of the season.
“We have to play hard with the same defensive intensity that we do (at home),” Magloire said. “We will have a lot more success if we trust one another and play aggressively on defense.”
The Hornets will be without starting point guard Baron Davis for this game after he sprained his left ankle while diving for a loose ball in Tuesday’s victory. It wasn’t immediately known whether Davis will play against Phoenix on Friday night, team spokesman Harold Kaufman said.
Atlanta lost its third straight on Monday, falling 96-84 to the New York Knicks. The Hawks have dropped five of six and have just five wins in 20 games since posting consecutive victories for the first time this season from Feb. 4-6.
Atlanta is in seventh place in the Central Division, two games better than the last-place Chicago Bulls.
“We’re pretty far down in the standings and not a lot of people really want to watch us,” Hawks leading scorer Stephen Jackson said. “But we still want to win. We still want to compete.”
New Orleans has dropped its last three games in Atlanta, including a 90-80 loss on Nov. 3.
STANDINGS (through March 23): Hornets - 3rd place, 14 1/2 GB, Central Division. Hawks - 7th place, 29 1/2 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Hornets - Davis, 23.0 ppg and 7.6 apg; Magloire, 10.0 rpg. Hawks - Jackson, 17.0 ppg and 4.5 rpg; Terry, 5.3 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Hornets, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 26; Hornets, 109-79. At New Orleans, Wesley hit six of his first seven shots—including three 3-pointers—en route to a season-high 32 points to lead the Hornets to their largest margin of victory of the season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hornets - 13-20 on the road; Hawks - 14-20 at home.
INJURIES: Hornets - G Courtney Alexander (Achilles’); F Jamal Mashburn (knee); G Davis (ankle). Hawks - C Joel Przybilla (knee); F Alan Henderson (back); F-C Obinna Ekezie (knee); G-F Wesley Person (groin).