One week after defeating the Warriors at home, the Hornets look to sweep the season series for the first time in eight years Wednesday night at Oracle Arena.
New Orleans’ playoff hopes seemed certain to dissolve when the team announced Feb. 1 that Paul would need left knee surgery. The star point guard helped the Hornets (33-35) reach the playoffs the last two seasons and had his club tied for eighth place in the Western Conference at the time of his injury.
That has proved to be the case, as New Orleans has been unable to stay in the playoff picture. The Hornets have dropped 14 of 21 to fall 7 1/2 games behind Portland for the final postseason spot.
The Hornets are coming off a rare win without Paul, 108-100 over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday that snapped a three-game skid. David West(notes) scored 24 points and Darren Collison(notes) had 18 points and 14 assists.
“We’re not looking at it as trying to get the winning streak against the Clippers going,” forward Julian Wright(notes) said after New Orleans won its 13th straight in the series. “We’ve been on a losing streak so we’re just trying to get a win.”
New Orleans has two victories in nine games, with the other win coming against Golden State (18-48).
Paul averaged 29.0 points and shot 61.1 percent in the Hornets’ first two wins of the season over the Warriors. New Orleans, though, showed it didn’t need its three-time All-Star in a 135-131 victory against Golden State on March 8.
West averaged 27.8 points in his last five games - 8.8 better than his season average - and will look to help the Hornets sweep the Warriors for the first time since 2001-02.
New Orleans isn’t the only team giving Golden State problems.
The Warriors, owners of the second-worst record in the West, have lost 20 of 25. They fell 124-121 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday.
Golden State had a chance against the defending champions, but Stephen Curry(notes) and Monta Ellis(notes) missed 3-pointers in the final seconds. Ellis’ attempt bounced on the rim three times before falling aside at the buzzer.
Ellis was playing in his third game after missing the previous six with a sore back, and struggled to find his rhythm. He finished with 13 points on 5-of-23 shooting after scoring 31 and going 12 of 22 in a 124-112 win over Toronto on Saturday.
“I’m a shooter,” Ellis said. “I’m a shooter until coach (Don Nelson) tells me not to shoot anymore. Nothing else I can do.”
Ellis, who didn’t play against the Hornets last week, averaged 27.0 points in the first two meetings.