In danger of losing an eighth straight road game, the Hornets look to extend a 12-game winning streak against the lowly Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night.
Trailing eighth-place Portland by 7 1/2 games in the Western Conference, New Orleans has virtually taken itself out of the postseason race with its poor play. A loss to Los Angeles (25-42) would give the Hornets eight straight road defeats for the first time since the 2004-05 season.
New Orleans has lost nine of 11 overall, allowing 108.9 points per game. The Hornets, though, have been much tougher defensively against the Clippers, surrendering an average of 90.2 points during their winning streak against them.
The Clippers have lost seven straight overall entering their final contest with the Hornets this season.
Still, even this might be a matchup too tough for an injury-riddled New Orleans team to overcome. The Hornets have dressed the league minimum eight players the past two games, including a 120-106 loss to Phoenix on Sunday night.
“We just have to be realistic about our situation,” New Orleans forward David West(notes) said. “We’ve just got to be professionals at a time like this, just keep playing and try to keep who we have left healthy and just go out and compete.”
Peja Stojakovic(notes) (abdomen) has missed three straight games and will miss at least another 10 days, and James Posey(notes) has been out the past two games due to flulike symptoms. Posey’s status is uncertain.
Aside from their top draft picks from the past two years, Los Angeles has been relatively healthy. Blake Griffin(notes), the top overall pick in last year’s draft, has missed the entire season due to a fractured knee and 2008 No. 1 pick Eric Gordon(notes) has missed five straight games due to a sore right leg.
Gordon, averaging 17.2 points, is day to day.
A 118-88 loss to San Antonio on Saturday night ensured the Clippers of a third straight losing season. Los Angeles will finish below .500 for the 16th time in 17 years, and it’s hardly inspiring players to put forth their best effort down the stretch.
The Clippers have been outscored by an average of 20.0 points during their skid.
“Whether they think the season is done, whether they’re going for points, whatever’s going on with them has to change, because we’re not done,” coach Kim Hughes said. “It’s still a teaching process. I don’t intend to let it happen that we’re going to play like that. If it’s going to play like that, then minutes will have to be adjusted. It’s just not fair.”
Los Angeles has given up at least 60 points or more in the paint in two straight games—well above its season average of 42.9.