The New Orleans Hornets couldn’t put together any sort of momentum last month. While it’s too late to salvage any playoff aspirations, they’d still like to open the season’s final stretch on a positive note.
The Hornets seek to win the four-game season series with the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night when the teams face off for the final time this season at FedEx Forum.
New Orleans (35-41) went 4-12 in March, and hasn’t won consecutive games since Feb. 19 and 21. That slump has made it mathematically impossible for the Hornets to reach a third straight postseason, and the best they can still hope for is a .500 record with wins in their final six contests.
The Hornets upset the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, but failed to carry over any momentum, losing 96-91 to hapless Washington on Wednesday to conclude a 2-3 homestand.
“This game was an opportunity to get a win and build on the Lakers game, but unfortunately it was a setback,” coach Jeff Bower said. “The follow up from the Lakers game wasn’t there.”
David West(notes) scored 18 points, but the Hornets allowed the Wizards to shoot 55.9 percent. New Orleans finished with fewer than 96 points eight times in 16 March games despite the return of Paul from microfracture surgery on his left knee. He’s averaging 9.2 points in five games since re-entering the lineup.
“We did this to ourselves,” West said. “We didn’t come out aggressive enough. The game was just ugly. Our game defensively and offensively never had a rhythm or any type of continuity that would allow us to put together a good enough stretch to beat anybody.”
New Orleans has beaten the Grizzlies twice in three attempts this season, though the Hornets lost the most recent meeting 104-100 at home March 3 - a game Paul missed.
If Paul can lead the Hornets to victory in Memphis, they have a good shot at two wins in a row. New Orleans travels to league-worst New Jersey on Saturday.
The Grizzlies (38-36) also had a difficult month of March, ending it with three straight losses - the last two in overtime. They’re technically alive for a playoff spot, but trail eighth-place San Antonio by seven games with eight to play.
Memphis needs to split its final eight games to finish with its first winning record since 2005-06.