Hornets-Clippers Preview

The banged-up New Orleans Hornets are struggling through their

worst stretch of a once-promising season. Perhaps a matchup with

the Los Angeles Clippers can give their confidence a boost.

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.

New Orleans (32-35) is 7-14 since losing Chris Paul to a knee

injury. The three-time All Star may be a week away from returning,

but it’s too late for the Hornets to make a playoff push.

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 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 (abdomen) has missed three straight games and

will miss at least another 10 days, and James Posey 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, 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 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.

“We’re not coming to the gym with the right mentality and it’s

starting to show,” Los Angeles guard Baron Davis said.