With no chance of gaining home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, the New Orleans Hornets will turn their attention to securing the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference when they visit the Washington Wizards in the regular-season finale for both teams.
The Hornets had a chance to move up to fourth place in the East, but squandered any hopes of gaining home court, awarded to the top four seeds in each conference, when they lost 101-97 to the New York Knicks on Monday night.
New Orleans went into the contest on a two-game winning streak and was energized early by the return of All-Star point guard Baron Davis, who had missed nine games with a left ankle sprain.
The Hornets, however, blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead and now need a win over Washington, or a New York loss to Cleveland on Wednesday to finish in sixth place in the conference.
If New Orleans secures the sixth seed, it will face the Detroit Pistons in the first round. Finishing seventh will give the Hornets a matchup with the two-time defending Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Nets.
New Orleans went 3-1 against Detroit and 1-2 against New Jersey in the regular season.
Davis, however, said the Hornets’ final game at Washington is meaningless because his team now has no shot at home-court advantage.
“It don’t matter who we play,” Davis said. “We can beat anybody … The playoffs is the playoffs … The harder the better.”
Washington’s dismal season continued Monday with a 101-79 road loss to Detroit.
The Wizards led 47-43 after a sloppy first half that saw the teams combine for 27 turnovers. Gilbert Arenas scored 15 of his 20 points in the half for Washington, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
The Pistons’ defense took over in the third quarter in taking a 55-53 lead with 4:48 left. Detroit then built a 72-62 lead going into the fourth.
The Wizards, who have the third-worst record in the NBA under first-year coach Eddie Jordan, have lost two straight and eight of their last 10.
“We played a terrific ball game for about 42 minutes,” Jordan said. “But we lost faith in what we were doing for about six minutes and that was the ball game.”