New Orleans snapped a four-game losing streak Wednesday with an 86-85 victory over Golden State. It was only the second win in 14 games for the Hornets, who are two games behind the Sacramento Kings for the eighth and final playoff spot.
“We understand we have to scratch and claw our way to every one of these victories down the stretch,” said New Orleans forward Rasual Butler, who scored 20 points. “It feels real good to know that we’re still in the hunt. We feel we’re absolutely a playoff-caliber team, even though we’re a young team. And we know we have to go out there and prove that.”
The Hornets are trying to reach the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years. They have had a tumultuous season—playing games in Oklahoma City, Baton Rouge, La. and only three times in New Orleans—due to the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.
Making the playoff chase tougher, New Orleans is without leading scorer David West, who has missed two consecutive games with a sprained left knee and ankle. He is listed as day-to-day.
Butler has led the team in scoring in West’s absence, scoring 20 points against the Warriors and 15 in a loss to the Utah Jazz on Monday.
Memphis, meanwhile, tries to avoid a three-game losing streak and get closer to securing a playoff spot.
The Grizzlies are one game behind the Los Angeles Clippers for fifth in the West and five games ahead of the Kings. They are trying to reach the postseason for the third consecutive season.
“We weren’t ready,” Gasol said. “We didn’t come out ready to compete at their level. It was frustrating because we weren’t clicking from the start. I don’t know if it was so much what they were doing, it was more about us. We had a lot of open looks. We couldn’t knock down the shots we normally do.”
The Grizzlies average just 91.6 points per game, which ranks them 28th in the NBA. Their defensive play has carried them all season, as they have allowed 88.6 points per game, the second-lowest average in the league.