The New Orleans Hornets have successfully rebuilt their roster since leaving Charlotte in 2002, emerging last season as one of the powers in a deep Western Conference.

The franchise's old fans are still waiting to see some similar progress with their new team.

The Bobcats will be looking to avoid their third consecutive defeat when they host the Hornets on Friday night, but they could be facing a motivated New Orleans club trying to rebound from an ugly first loss of the season.

The Hornets reached the Eastern Conference semifinals each of their last two seasons in Charlotte, but their team was on the decline by the time they relocated starting with the 2002-03 season.

After going 18-64 in 2004-05 to begin a stretch of three straight seasons without a playoff berth, New Orleans returned to the postseason in 2008 after winning 56 games - more than the team ever won in Charlotte - before falling one game short of the Western Conference finals.

With North Carolina native Chris Paul in top form and the Hornets (3-1) draining half of their 3-pointers, they averaged 106.7 points during a 3-0 start, which followed a 7-0 preseason.

But their offense hit a snag on Wednesday against Atlanta in an 87-79 home loss. Paul, a native of Winston-Salem and former Wake Forest star, had 22 points and 11 assists for his fourth straight game with at least 20 and 10. But the rest of the team shot just 39.2 percent (22-of-56) from the field, and was outrebounded 45-35.

"They were more aggressive, more physical," New Orleans coach Byron Scott said of the Hawks. "They took liberties against us and we took a step back because we accepted it."

There was some good news for the Hornets, as they returned to full strength with Peja Stojakovic and Tyson Chandler back in the starting lineup, and now they'll try to bounce back on the road. After going 26-15 away from home last season, New Orleans opened 2008-09 with wins at Golden State and Phoenix.

The Hornets are 2-2 in their previous visits to the franchise's original city, including a 99-85 win on Dec. 28. They completed a season sweep in 2007-08 with a 112-84 win in New Orleans on Jan. 18.

The young Bobcats (1-3) hired Larry Brown as their new head coach for their fifth season, but coming off their third 50-loss campaign, there aren't many signs of improvement in the early going. After a 101-83 home loss to Detroit on Monday, they fell 101-98 at New York on Wednesday.

Charlotte had six players score in double figures and shot 48.8 percent en route to season high 41 field goals made. But Brown wasn't pleased with the 18 turnovers, which led to 22 points by the Knicks.

"That's the game," Brown said. "We missed a great opportunity to get a win on the road."

The Bobcats have also struggled defensively, with opponents shooting 48.2 percent from the field this season - fifth-worst in the NBA.

Jason Richardson, meanwhile, has had problems making shots after leading Charlotte with 21.8 points per game last season. He's 9-of-31 from the field in his last two games, including 0-of-7 from 3-point range.

He averaged 18.5 points versus New Orleans last season.

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