The Hornets have lost seven of their last 10 overall and haven’t won at home since a 111-107 victory over Milwaukee on March 12.
New Orleans, with the worst record in the Western Conference, overcame a 14-point second-half deficit before suffering a 98-87 loss to Utah on Friday night. J.R. Smith scored 18 points and reserve David West added 15 for the Hornets, who shot under 42 percent (32-of-77).
P.J. Brown started at center and grabbed 13 rebounds with big men Chris Andersen and Jamaal Magloire sidelined. Magloire, who missed 51 games with a broken finger, has back spasms. Andersen has a sprained right ankle.
“Some losses hurt more than others, like this one tonight,” Brown said. “You’re one up with four minutes to go in the game and you’re on your home floor—you’ve got to win the game. You’ve got to turn it up a notch. I’ve been there before, I’ve been in that situation so many times. … It’s just frustrating and I wish I could just give some of that experience (to the younger Hornets), but I can’t. It hurts. We all hurt.”
Portland, which has lost both meetings with New Orleans this season, is also hampered by injuries to its frontcourt. Zach Randolph underwent season-ending knee surgery on March 31 and Theo Ratliff has missed nine straight games with a shoulder injury. Ratliff, Portland’s best interior defender, was fined $35,000 on Wednesday for missing weightlifting sessions.
Shareef Abdur-Rahim had 23 points and 13 rebounds, and Darius Miles scored 23 points, but the Blazers fell 119-115 to Sacramento on Friday night. Miles shot 8-of-15 and had six assists in 26 minutes off the bench after missing the previous three games with a shoulder injury.
Ruben Patterson added 20 points for Portland, which shot nearly 55 percent (41-of-75) but lost its seventh straight game.
Like the Hornets’ Smith, Blazers rookie Sebastian Telfair has shown promise and has taken advantage of extended playing time with his team out of postseason contention. Telfair had 21 points and six assists Friday and has scored in double figures in four of the last five games.
The 19-year-old Telfair played 40 minutes, and could hit that number again Sunday as fellow point guard Damon Stoudamire left Friday’s game in the fourth quarter with a bruised shoulder.