The New Orleans Hornets have been at their best during their nine-game winning streak in the fourth quarter, when they’ve turned their league-best defense up a notch.
The Golden State Warriors seem unlikely to be intimidated.
The Warriors have used fourth-quarter rallies to beat the Hornets in their last two meetings, a trend New Orleans doesn’t want to see continue Wednesday night in Oakland as it looks to match the longest winning streak in franchise history.
The Hornets (30-16) allow a league-low 90.9 points per game, but they’ve been even better defensively during their streak. They’re yielding an average of 85.0 points and 40.8 percent shooting, and that’s with three overtimes factored in.
New Orleans has especially thrived in the fourth quarter. That’s when it’s held its opposition to 19.0 points per game - its best defensive period during the streak - and 38.6 percent shooting, also forcing an average of 4.5 turnovers in the final 12 minutes of its last six wins.
Defense and rebounding lifted coach Monty Williams’ team Monday against Oklahoma City. Tied after three quarters, the Hornets outrebounded the Thunder 15-7, forced five turnovers and won 91-89 courtesy of David West’s(notes) 19-foot fadeaway with 0.5 seconds left.
“It didn’t start off all that great but our guys are tough, mentally tough,” Williams said. “We were giving up easy baskets, giving up 3s, but we just felt like if we got a few stops it would change the way they played the game. … I just thought it was about our team’s mindset tonight, we just didn’t give in.”
The Hornets can’t let that mindset disappear as they begin a three-game road trip in search of matching a 10-game winning streak from Feb. 21-March 13, 1998, as the franchise’s longest.
Golden State (19-25) actually spoiled their last nine-game streak, winning 116-103 in New Orleans on Jan. 30, 2008, and the Warriors have beaten the Hornets a few times in the last nine months.
Reggie Williams(notes) scored 18 fourth-quarter points as they outscored the Hornets 43-25 on March 17 at Oracle Arena in a 131-121 comeback win, then they did it again Jan. 5 on the road. Trailing 82-72 after three, Monta Ellis(notes) scored 12 of Golden State’s 38 points in the fourth to cap a 110-103 victory.
The Warriors have scored at least 35 fourth-quarter points in their last four games versus New Orleans, making them responsible for four of the Hornets’ nine worst defensive fourth periods since the beginning of last season.
Hornets guard Chris Paul(notes) has averaged just 15.4 points and 8.6 assists while shooting 41.7 percent during the streak and rolled his ankle late in Monday’s game, though he expects to play Wednesday.
He should be eager to. Paul’s average of 24.3 points against Golden State is his best versus any opponent, and he’s averaged 30.5 in his last six games in the series.
The Warriors, meanwhile, will be looking to bounce back against the league’s hottest team after falling to the NBA’s best. San Antonio’s bench outscored Golden State’s 46-14 on Monday in a 113-102 win.
Ellis, however, thinks his team can bounce back.
“We have another good team that’s coming here,” Ellis said. “We are going to go out there and fight and it’s going to go down to the wire. We just have to put 48 minutes together.”