It seems the joke is on the Hornets now that they have lost six in a row since the hot start. The squad looks to snap its lengthy slide with tonight's showdown against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center in the finale of a short two-game road trip.
The losing ways continued for the Hornets with Saturday's 96-81 loss at Dallas, as Al-Farouq Aminu paced them with 15 points and a career-high 12 rebounds and Jarrett Jack added 13 points. Point guard Eric Gordon is still dealing with a bruised right knee and is not expected to play tonight. Jack was asked after the game how the team can get back on track.
"Definitely us getting healthy back is part of it," Jack said. "Getting Eric [Gordon] and Trevor [Ariza] and Jason [Smith] and those guys back. They're a big part of our nucleus, so hopefully if we can get them back soon we can get things back on track."
Gordon is expected to miss about three weeks, while Ariza could miss a few weeks because of a strained groin. Smith is probable for Monday's game and is dealing with a death in the family. Forward DaJuan Summers (knee) is doubtful.
New Orleans has lost three straight road games since kicking off the 2011-12 campaign with a win at Phoenix on Dec. 26. It hasn't lost seven in a row since an eight-game slide back in the 2005-06 season. The Hornets have held seven of their first eight opponents under 100 points this season and hope to pull that off again tonight in the Rocky Mountains.
Jack and LeBron James are the only players in the NBA this season to average over 16 points, seven assists and four rebounds per game in 2011-12.
Denver will kick off a four-game homestand and has yet to suffer defeat as the host this season (4-0). It had won four in a row overall until dropping a 121-117 decision Saturday against the San Antonio Spurs in the Alamo City.
Danilo Gallinari ended with a career-high tying 31 points and five rebounds, while Ty Lawson registered a double-double with 20 points and 10 assists. Al Harrington had 19 points for Denver, which lost despite shooting 56.8 percent from the floor.
"We have the chance to have a really good team," Gallinari told the team's website. "When you can come back from 20 points against the Spurs, it means you are a really good team. We've just got to be more ready, more focused when we come out to start the game."
Gallinari is averaging 20.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists over his last five games. The Nuggets have won six straight regular-season games at home dating back to last season and will also welcome the Nets, Heat and Jazz to the Rockies on this upcoming residency.
Nuggets center Nene (heel) is listed as questionable for tonight and did not play against the Spurs. He has missed three of his last four games and is averaging 12.5 points and 7.3 rebounds this season.
Denver defeated New Orleans earlier this season by a 96-88 score in the Big Easy on Jan. 6 and has won six of the previous nine meetings between the teams. The two clubs have split the last 10 matchups at the Pepsi Center.