The Hornets will try to extend their home dominance over the Hawks when the teams meet on Wednesday night.
New Orleans (40-19) is within two games of San Antonio, which sits atop the Southwest. The Hornets have won three of four since a three-game losing streak, including Monday’s 100-88 victory in New York.
Now, they will be trying for their third straight home win as they host the stumbling Hawks (24-34), who have dropped 10 of their last 13.
New Orleans has won three straight against the Hawks since a 101-93 loss on Jan. 7, 2006, and five of six. The Hornets have also won 11 of their last 13 home games against Atlanta dating to the 1998-99 season, when they were still in Charlotte.
Chris Paul, who leads the team with 20.9 points per game, has averaged 23.0 points against the Hawks - his highest career average against any opponent - though he has only faced them three times. He had 20 points in New Orleans’ 92-86 win in Atlanta on Nov. 30.
Paul scored 27 points Monday against the Knicks, helping New Orleans bounce back from a 101-84 loss in Washington the previous day.
“I don’t think we had any energy in Washington,” coach Byron Scott said. “Tonight we played a lot tougher. It was a big game coming after the last game. You have to give them a lot of credit for the way they played.”
Paul made two shots and connected with Tyson Chandler for an alley-oop in the closing minutes, helping the Hornets close the game on a 10-0 run. Chandler had 15 points and 18 rebounds.
“That’s what great players do,” Scott said of Paul. “Either make a play for themselves or make a play for their teammates. He did a real good job of getting to the basket. And when he wasn’t getting to the basket he was finding open guys.”
The Hornets surpassed their win total from last season, the third straight season they have improved their record since going 18-64 in 2004-05. New Orleans last made the postseason in 2003-04, when it finished 41-41.
The Hawks, meanwhile, are hoping to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1998-99. They are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, one game behind New Jersey for the final postseason spot.
“They were red-hot, and we couldn’t cool them off,” Johnson said. “They came out in the second half very aggressive and hit us hard. We didn’t recover from that.”
Bibby, who had five points and six assists, has averaged just 14.0 points in 21 career games against the Hornets - his lowest average against any team.
The Hawks have dropped three straight on the road, where they are just 7-22.