With nine games left, the New Orleans Hornets still have a chance to make the playoffs. Coach Byron Scott, though, doesn’t think it will matter if his team continues to play the way it has been.
The Hornets visit the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday in a makeup game for the Jan. 13 matchup which was postponed due to inclement weather.
New Orleans (33-40) is coming off a 103-94 overtime win over New York on Saturday, just its fifth victory in the last 15 games. The Hornets are in 10th place in the Western Conference, three games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth and final playoff spot.
Scott said despite Saturday’s win in which New Orleans held the Knicks to just one field goal in overtime, his team is going to have to quickly improve if it wants a shot at the playoffs.
“They have to understand what is at stake,” he said. “The mental mistakes we made tonight cannot be tolerated. We can’t have them, and it is that simple.
“I won’t take guys out when they make a mental mistake but will let them know about it. That is being professional about your job. We need to go out there and play well on a regular basis. With nine games left we have put ourselves in a situation where if we have a real good nine games then we will make the playoffs. But we won’t if we keep having these types of mental breakdowns.”
The Hornets, who haven’t made the playoffs since the 2003-04 season, are 11-25 on the road, where they will play five of their last nine games— including three straight to end the season.
When Milwaukee (25-47) and New Orleans were scheduled to meet on Jan. 13, the Bucks were in the midst of a slide that saw them go 3-17 with leading scorer Michael Redd sidelined with a strained patellar tendon in his left knee.
Since Redd has returned, Milwaukee has gone 6-12 and enters this contest on a six-game losing streak. Redd missed the Bucks’ most recent loss, a 121-107 defeat to Washington on Sunday, because of pain in the knee.
A loss Tuesday would tie the Bucks’ season-long skid set from Feb. 8-23.
“Our starting five can compete with anybody in the league, but once we get to the bench, we’ve got a lot of inexperienced guys,” said Charlie Bell, who had 18 points Sunday. “We just don’t have the firepower.”
The Hornets won the only other meeting against Milwaukee this season, 109-101 in double overtime on Feb. 8.