The New Orleans Hornets have the longest active winning streak in the NBA, but it hasn’t been easy.
Following another close victory, the Hornets look to extend their season high winning streak to seven games Monday when they visit the Philadelphia 76ers.
After defeating lowly New Jersey 103-99 on Friday, New Orleans (19-16) blew a seven-point fourth-quarter lead Sunday before holding on for a 115-110 win over Washington, another last-place team. That marked the Hornets’ sixth straight win, with all those victories coming by five points or less.
These wins have helped the Hornets, who have won all three road games in 2010 after going 2-13 away from New Orleans to start the season, vault from 12th place in the Western Conference into ninth, one-half game back of Oklahoma City for the final playoff spot.
Despite being in the midst of its longest winning streak since a seven-game run Feb. 23-March 7, New Orleans isn’t necessarily playing its best basketball of the season. The Hornets have looked uninspired at times in the fourth quarter over their last six games and need to do a better job of finishing off opponents.
West is leading New Orleans’ offense during the winning streak, averaging 20.3 points in those contests. He had a team-high 30 points, while Paul had 16 points and 12 assists in the Hornets’ last game against the 76ers, a 98-91 win March 2.
New Orleans has won four straight over Philadelphia after losing six of the previous nine meetings.
The 76ers (11-25) are coming off Saturday’s 104-94 win over Detroit, their fourth victory in seven games following a 2-16 stretch. Philadelphia had little trouble getting its offense in sync against the struggling Pistons, shooting 57.4 percent to build a lead as big as 29 points.
Elton Brand(notes) led the offense Saturday, matching a season high with 25 points on 10 of 16 shooting off the bench. It was an encouraging performance for the 6-foot-9 forward, who sat out Friday’s 108-106 loss to Toronto with a stomach virus and missed most of last season with a right shoulder injury.
“I thought Elton carried us offensively all night,” Sixers coach Eddie Jordan said. “He’s coming around. He’s getting his legs under him, and he hasn’t had that this season.
“The shots that have been short are finally starting to fall. He’s a former All-Star and that’s why he’s here.”
Building on Saturday’s effort could prove difficult for Brand, who hasn’t had much success against the Hornets lately. In his last three games against New Orleans, Brand is averaging just 6.7 points on 34.6 percent shooting and 4.0 rebounds.