Hornets-Warriors Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 23, 2012
The Golden State Warriors will far well short of meeting coach Mark Jackson's expectations this season, but the team is at least competing until the end. The New Orleans Hornets need to do the same if they want avoid finishing at the bottom of the Western Conference. Golden State looks to avoid its first four-game home losing streak since the start of last season when it faces the league-worst Hornets on Tuesday night. Hired in June with no previous coaching experience, Jackson boldly predicted that he was going to change the culture of a Warriors franchise that had been to the postseason once since 1994. "I fully expect, put it in bold letters, the Golden State Warriors to be a playoff team next year,'' Jackson said a day after begin hired. That hasn't happened, as the Warriors have been ravaged by injuries and are 5-19 since trading guard Monta Ellis to Milwaukee for injured center Andrew Bogut in a five-player deal last month. With Ellis gone and the other four opening-night starters currently injured, Jackson has been forced to start four rookies alongside veteran Richard Jefferson in the last two games. Despite being without David Lee, Stephen Curry, Bogut, Andris Biedrins, Dorell Wright and Nate Robinson, Golden State (23-41) ended a season-high eight-game losing streak with a 93-88 victory over Minnesota on Sunday. Charles Jenkins scored 24 points and Klay Thompson added 17 to spark the Warriors' rally from 21 down in the second half. "Not just our rookies, overall we did a great job of battling," said Jackson, whose team lost four times by nine or fewer points during its longest slide of the season. "... They deserve all the credit. The way they competed. We got great individual performances but collectively, we found a way to get the job done." The Warriors haven't won two straight since a season high-tying three-game run March 10-13. They last dropped four in a row at home during a five-game skid Nov. 19-Dec. 10, 2010. New Orleans (20-44), a 102-87 winner in Oakland on March 28, continues a season-ending three-game trip following a 107-98 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. The Hornets were denied an eighth victory in 11 games by getting outscored by 19 in the final 12 minutes. "Although I am upset about the loss, I am happy about the way our guys played," said coach Monty Williams, like Jackson a former New York Knicks first-round draft pick. Eric Gordon averaged 20.4 points in seven games this month - slightly above his career average - but his missing 55 games this season following knee surgery has contributed to the Hornets looking up at the rest of the teams in the West. New Orleans, one game back of 14th-place Sacramento, needs to defeat the Warriors and Houston on Thursday, and for the Kings to lose to Oklahoma City and the Lakers to avoid at least a share of the worst record in the conference. Golden State and New Orleans have alternated wins and losses in the last six games in Oakland.
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