The Hornets took advantage of their last game in New Orleans to snap their longest losing streak of the season. They’ll now look to get back into the playoff picture as they return to Oklahoma City to host the struggling Houston Rockets.
The Hornets beat the Los Angeles Clippers 120-108 on Tuesday, ending an eight-game losing streak that dropped them to ninth place in the Western Conference. The game was the Hornets’ third and last in New Orleans this season because of Hurricane Katrina.
“Guys are leaving here with images they’ll never forget for the rest of their lives,” said P.J. Brown, whose home in suburban Slidell, La., was damaged by the storm—and still isn’t repaired yet. “We just wanted to win this one for the fans.”
The Hornets are scheduled to return to New Orleans full-time for the 2007-08 season. Until then, they are temporarily based in Oklahoma City.
“It felt really good,” Rasual Butler said. “It’s something that I’ll think about—that I was able to help this team get one (victory) before we left this city.”
Butler hit seven 3-pointers and scored a career-high 32 points for the Hornets, who won for the first time since an 88-75 victory at Portland on Feb. 26. David West added 21 points and 11 rebounds for his 40th consecutive double-figures scoring game.
“He just had a game of his life,” coach Byron Scott said of Butler. “Hopefully he can keep playing like that or somewhere near like that.”
The Hornets, who won 18 games last season, were one of the biggest surprises in the first half of the season but have only three victories since the All-Star break. Still, New Orleans was just 15-51 at this point last season.
“I felt we were a better team than we were showing (during the losing streak)” said rookie Chris Paul, who scored 21 points. “Everybody spoke up a little bit, saying, ‘enough is enough.’ I think we can build on it.”
The Rockets lost their sixth straight on Tuesday, 88-72 to the Dallas Mavericks. Yao Ming, who had scored at least 20 points in his previous 14 games, was held to just 13—his fewest since scoring only six in 9 minutes against Phoenix on Feb. 16.
“They put a lot of pressure on me,” said Yao, who had averaged 28.0 points over his previous 14 contests.
The Rockets, who had won four in a row before their current slide, will match their worst losing streak of the season with a defeat in this game. Houston, which fell to 2-19 without injured guard Tracy McGrady, has lost seven straight twice this season.
“We’ve got to make the shots when they double-team Yao,” said forward Keith Bogans, who went just 1-for-6 from the field. “That’s what it comes down to.”
The Rockets have lost their last four meetings with the Hornets after winning six straight in the series.