The New Orleans Hornets got off to a strong start thanks in part to impressive play on the road. That hasn't been the case lately, and the Hornets are looking to snap a three-game road losing streak Wednesday night when they meet the Seattle SuperSonics.
Since winning eight of its first 10 road games, New Orleans (15-10) has dropped three in a row, including an 88-76 loss at Portland on Monday to match its second-lowest scoring output of the season. That performance came two nights after a strong 101-98 home victory over Phoenix.
"If we make shots we win the game," said Hornets point guard Chris Paul, who went 5-for-15 from the field for 11 points. "That's all it was. We didn't make shots."
The Hornets made 40.8 percent from the floor Monday and were even worse in their previous road game, shooting 35.7 percent in an 89-80 loss at Dallas on Friday. They had failed to score more than 80 points only once in their first 11 road games.
New Orleans could receive a boost against the Sonics (7-18) if Peja Stojakovic is able to return after sitting out two games with a groin injury.
The sharpshooting forward hurt his groin in an overtime win against Memphis on Dec. 7 and missed the next two games, including a 91-88 win over Seattle on Dec. 9. He returned Friday at Dallas and scored 10 points, only to leave after re-aggravating the injury.
Stojakovic is averaging 14.1 points after missing all but 13 games last season due to back surgery and groin and knee injuries. He has averaged 25.0 points on 54.1 percent shooting in his last four games against the Sonics, but has not faced them since the 2005-06 season.
If Stojakovic can't play, even more of the scoring onus would fall on Paul, who leads the Hornets with 21.0 points per game and averages 9.6 assists to rank third in the NBA.
The third-year player, held under 20 points for just the second time in 10 games Monday, went 10-for-16 from the field for 29 points while handing out 10 assists in last week's game against the Sonics.
New Orleans has won the last three meetings - all at home - but has lost three straight and six of seven in Seattle.
The Sonics are coming off a 2-3 road trip, capped by a 96-75 loss at Utah on Saturday. It was their lowest scoring output of the season and second-worst shooting performance from the field (32.9 percent).
"We got the start we wanted, but we played like we were playing our fifth game in seven nights," Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "They had more energy than we did. We played tired."
Carlesimo hopes a three-day break has helped rejuvenate rookie swingman Kevin Durant, who went 3-for-11 from the field for six points in 19 minutes Saturday. He made 4-of-17 and had 13 points in 34 minutes of a 99-88 win at Minnesota one night earlier.
Durant, the Sonics' leader with 19.7 points per game, scored 23 points in his first career game against the Hornets.
Seattle hopes to have Kurt Thomas, averaging a team-high 9.3 rebounds, back in the lineup after he missed Saturday's victory with a sprained right ankle. The veteran center had 12 points and 10 rebounds in the last contest against New Orleans.
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