The New Orleans Hornets will have to overcome a rash of injuries if they hope to mount an improbable run to the postseason.
With a playoff berth still possible, the banged-up Hornets visit the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday.
New Orleans (35-41) was without Desmond Mason, Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler in Friday’s 103-95 loss to the Phoenix Suns. Mason, who fractured his nose and cheek in Wednesday’s 101-92 overtime victory over Seattle, is out for the rest of the regular season, but could return if the Hornets reach the postseason.
Paul, who is nursing a stress reaction in his left foot, and Chandler, who has a bruised left big toe, had both been fighting injuries for weeks before leaving against Seattle. Hornets coach Byron Scott said they would both be game-time decisions Saturday.
“It’s about as close as I’ve been to saying, ‘You know what, what the heck?’ Put a uniform on,” Scott said, a former star with the Lakers.
“I thought our guys played hard,” Scott said. “That’s all you can ask for is to go out and compete, and I thought we did that.”
Rookie Cedric Simmons also missed the game with a sprained left ankle, and fellow rookie Hilton Armstrong played despite a sprained left wrist. Three-time All-Star Peja Stojakovic hasn’t played since Nov. 24 after back surgery.
Marcus Vinicius, recalled from the NBA Development League on Thursday, had three points in a season-high 18 minutes.
“We know we’re going to have to make up for whatever we may lack in actual talent with effort,” West said. “Guys have got a lot of pride.”
New Orleans is in 10th place in the Western Conference, three games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth and final playoff spot. The Hornets have played two more games than the Clippers and will meet them twice more, including the regular-season finale on April 18 at Staples Center.
The Hornets have won four of their last six games against the Timberwolves, including two of three this season.
Minnesota has gone just 7-16 since the All-Star break and is 5 1/2 games behind the Clippers. The Timberwolves won for the second time in three games on Friday, but blew an 18-point lead before hanging on to beat the New York Knicks 99-94.
“I mean, it’s the microcosm of our season,” Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said. “I thought the first half was as good a half offensively that we’ve played all year, bar none, not even close.
“And then we come out 18 up and we reverted, one pass, shot, which has been our thing. All of a sudden 18 is down.”
“I have not figured it out, why we can’t duplicate halves, especially when we have halves like we did tonight,” said Kevin Garnett, who had 12 points and 15 rebounds. “A half where we just basically got anything we wanted because we moved the ball and shared the ball. We came out and totally played two halves.”