Knicks-Hornets Preview

Despite three straight wins, the New Orleans Hornets haven’t

been completely satisfied with their effort. A change in

philosophy, meanwhile, has the New York Knicks in the midst of a

rare successful stretch.

Coming off another close victory, the Hornets return home to

face a Knicks team trying to win four in a row for the first time

in nearly four years Friday night.

New Orleans (10-11) won 97-96 at Minnesota on Wednesday night,

getting a layup by Chris Paul with 1.4 seconds left to avoid a loss

to one of the league’s worst teams. The Hornets were down 16 midway

through the third quarter before making a move.

“I think we’ve got to be more focused in executing our game plan

and stay with it,” said forward Peja Stojakovic, who had 21

points.

The Hornets needed a layup from Darius Songaila with 12 seconds

left to beat Sacramento 96-94 on Tuesday night. That was New

Orleans’ sixth win in a row at home, its longest run there since an

11-game winning streak from Feb. 27-April 6, 2008.

New York (7-15) has a chance to win four straight for the first

time since a six-game streak from Jan. 2-13, 2006. The Knicks have

been playing better after coach Mike D’Antoni shortened his

rotation and put an emphasis on defense.

“Once you start playing and winning and having hope, a lot of

this is psychological,” D’Antoni said. “They just have a better

feeling about themselves and more confidence, and I think too as we

go forward we should be able to get better.”

New York forced 18 turnovers in a 93-84 win over short-handed

Portland on Monday night. The Knicks held an opponent under 90 for

the first time this season.

While streaky scorer Nate Robinson was held out of the rotation

the past four games, Jared Jeffries started the last three contests

due to his smart play. He drew five offensive fouls over his last

two games.

“We need to get wins right now and I think the whole team is

taking on the attitude of (doing) whatever it takes,” Jeffries told

the Knicks’ official Web site. “I think guys are sacrificing some

of their minutes, sacrificing shooting the ball, sacrificing their

bodies and putting extra time in the gym to get this team over the

hump.”

Eddy Curry’s role is still to be determined. He was in uniform

Monday, but didn’t play after missing seven games due to a sore

left knee.

D’Antoni wanted the veteran center to get more practice time

before putting him on the court.

David Lee continues to start at center for New York. He had 28

points in the Knicks’ 117-111 win over the Hornets on Nov. 2.

New Orleans center Emeka Okafor had 24 points, 10 rebounds and

three blocks in that contest. He was held to seven points and six

rebounds versus the Timberwolves.