Coach Jeff Bower is confident in the way his New Orleans Hornets play in tight games, despite some recent defeats. He may, however, be starting to doubt their ability to win at home.
New Orleans (26-23) has dropped two straight, both at home, the most recent a 103-99 loss to Oklahoma City on Wednesday night. The Hornets couldn’t get any closer after a Peja Stojakovic(notes) layup cut the Thunder’s lead to 101-99.
New Orleans played two overtime games last week, winning one.
“I like the chances in close games with this group,” Bower said. “We have to continue to adjust to our personnel exactly and we have to continue to improve.”
The Hornets are 1-2 without Paul, who is expected to have knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee Thursday and will likely will miss all of February.
They are in danger of losing four in a row at home for the first time since January 2007. Paul missed all of those games with an ankle injury.
New Orleans has lost four of five at home after winning 13 of its previous 14. With Paul out, the Hornets set a season low for attendance with a crowd of 12,844 against Oklahoma City.
“I think we have to play a little different,” West said of New Orleans’ chances without its All-Star point guard. “I don’t think we can play the same way. I think we can try to find an identity that fits the group that is going to be on the floor and go from there.”
Even with Paul, the Hornets couldn’t prevail in a close game against Philadelphia on Jan. 11, losing 96-92.
Andre Iguodala(notes) and Elton Brand(notes) each had 18 points to lead the 76ers (17-31) in that contest. Brand scored 26 points and Iguodala added 25, eight rebounds and eight assists as Philadelphia beat Chicago 106-103 on Wednesday night.
Brand averaged 19.3 points and 8.0 rebounds in his last six games. Iguodala, meanwhile, had a big game after averaging 13.4 points and shooting 40.7 percent in his previous seven contests.
The duo’s effort versus the Bulls has put the Sixers in position to win three in a row for the first time this season.
Philadelphia plays its next two on the road, where it has been better in recent weeks. The Sixers won six of their last nine away from the Wachovia Center after losing 12 of their first 15.