(AP) — Thanks to their worst shooting performance of the season, the New Orleans Hornets nearly dropped the opener of their four-game Western road trip. They might have an easier time on their next stop.
The Hornets will go for their fourth straight win overall Monday night when they try to take advantage of the woeful Los Angeles Clippers.
New Orleans (11-1) matched Southwest Division rival San Antonio for the league’s best record Sunday, shooting poorly at 32.2 percent but managing to win 75-71 at Sacramento.
While David West scored a team-high 17 points, Chris Paul shot 2 of 12 and finished with nine, ending his streak of double-figure games at 11.
“I don’t think either one of us is going to send this tape to (the Basketball Hall of Fame) or any other field,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said. “At this point in the season I don’t even look at the standings. I had no idea we would have this kind of record. Looking at our record, it might be fools’ gold.”
Paul fared a little better against the Clippers at home Nov. 9, shooting 6 of 10 and finishing 13 points. He was one of six Hornets in double figures during the 101-82 rout, New Orleans’ 14th straight win in the series.
That victory gave New Orleans the second longest active streak versus one opponent. San Antonio has won 18 in a row, also against Los Angeles (1-13).
Having also lost nine straight overall, the Clippers don’t appeared poised to end either skid. They have allowed an average of 110.6 points over their last nine games, their longest losing streak since dropping 12 in a row Dec. 20, 2008-Jan. 14, 2009.
Los Angeles got a career-high 44 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists from star rookie Blake Griffin on Saturday night but lost 124-115 to New York. Eric Gordon chipped in 25 points but couldn’t help his team overcome its worst defensive performance of the season.
“We have to get him some help. We know that,” coach Vinny Del Negro said of Griffin. “We’re in a tough situation right now. I’m happy with the way we battled. We had opportunities there, kept fighting to cut the lead, but we battled and fought and tried to grind it out. Blake shot it real well, we were aggressive the whole game. Eric Gordon did some good things, just not enough help there.”
The defensive struggles in Del Negro’s first season have the Clippers off to their worst start since dropping their first 17 games in 1998-99. Under first-year coach Williams, the Hornets rank second in the league defensively, allowing 90.4 points per game.
The Hornets could get an injection of new talent for Monday’s game as point guard Jarrett Jack, center David Andersen and guard Marcus Banks are expected to join the team. The trio was acquired Saturday in a trade that sent Peja Stojakovic and Jerryd Bayless to Toronto.