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News » Hornets-Wizards Preview

Hornets-Wizards Preview

Hornets-Wizards Preview
A matchup with the struggling Washington Wizards might seem like a good way for the New Orleans Hornets to bounce back from a flat performance, but winning at the Verizon Center has been a very tough task for them.

The Hornets, looking to keep up in the Western Conference playoff race, try for their first victory in Washington in more than five years Wednesday night.

New Orleans (39-23) had its season-best seven-game win streak end Monday night with a 89-79 loss at Atlanta. The Hornets were outscored 27-12 in the second quarter after taking an eight-point lead after the first period.

"The second quarter was awful, as simply put as that," coach Byron Scott said. "I thought our guys in the second quarter did a terrible job of defending those guys. Whatever we could do wrong in the second quarter we basically did."

The loss, coupled with Portland's victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, dropped Scott's team a half-game behind the Trail Blazers into sixth in the West. The Blazers and Nuggets, a half-game behind the Hornets, both play Wednesday.

New Orleans will look to get back on track by winning for the first time at the Verizon Center since April 14, 2004. New Orleans has lost four straight in Washington, falling by an average of 17.3 points in those games, and has one win in its last eight contests there.

Getting better production from the bench might help the Hornets end their skid at Washington. New Orleans' reserves scored seven points Monday and haven't contributed more than 24 in any of the last nine games, which has Scott contemplating changes to his second unit.

"It's putting too much pressure on our starters," Scott said. "I can't sit there and continue to watch this."

The loss of forward Peja Stojakovic hasn't helped New Orleans' depth, and he's questionable for Wednesday after missing three straight games with back spasms. Julian Wright is expected to start again and has averaged 12.7 points on 65.4 percent shooting in Stojakovic's absence.

In the Hornets' last meeting with Washington on Dec. 30, Chris Paul's triple-double lifted New Orleans to a 97-85 home win that broke its three-game skid in the series. The NBA's assists leader at 11.1 per game, Paul has averaged 24.0 points and 12.7 assists in his last three games and has shot 63.9 percent in five career contests against Washington.

Caron Butler's return has provided an offensive spark for the Wizards, who snapped a five-game skid with Monday night's 110-99 victory over Minnesota. Butler has 47 points in two games since coming back from a sore left hamstring, and Washington (15-49) topped 100 points and shot at least 52.0 percent in each contest.

The forward had missed the previous three games, and the Wizards averaged 83.3 points in that span.

Butler had 27 points and 10 rebounds Monday, and Antawn Jamison added 26 points.

"It's just nice to get a win," coach Ed Tapscott said. "Guys have been good all year about fighting through tough times, so I'm happiest for them. My veteran guys have been terrific. I keep making the point to my younger guys to follow them and we'll be fine."

Jamison, averaging a team-leading 21.7 points and 9.1 rebounds, has scored at least 20 points in six of his last eight meetings with the Hornets. Butler has missed the last four matchups with injuries.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: March 10, 2009


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