(Sports Network) - One of the hottest games on the NBA schedule will take place tonight in the Big Easy, as the New Orleans Hornets host the Southwest Division-rival Dallas Mavericks in the conclusion of a home-and-home series.
The Hornets had their perfect start to the season come to an end with Monday's 98-95 loss at Dallas in which Jason Terry hit the go-ahead basket with 34.9 seconds remaining to finish with 26 points.
Chris Paul recorded 22 points -- only two in the second half -- and nine assists for New Orleans, which had opened the season with a franchise-best 8-0 record. Peja Stojakovic and Trevor Ariza scored 17 and 13 points, respectively, in defeat. The Hornets shot 30.4 percent (7-for-23 in the fourth quarter and hit just three of their last 15 shots.
"You can't do nothing on the bench," Paul said of sitting on the pine in the third quarter with foul trouble. "That's my fault. I felt like the fouls were here or there, that's my fault, I can't expect the refs to not call it."
New Orleans is 5-0 as the host this season and will also welcome the Cleveland Cavaliers to Louisiana on Friday.
Dallas posted its fourth straight win over the Hornets thanks to both Terry and Dirk Nowitzki, who ended with 25 points and 10 rebounds in the Mavs' 17th triumph in 18 tries at home against the Hornets.
Jason Kidd had 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Mavericks, who made 49.3 percent of their shots to down New Orleans.
"It's special because it's like a mini-playoff series," Terry said of playing the rival Hornets. "And we held serve by winning at home, and now we go on the road. That's kind of fun, this early in the season to have something like that."
The Mavs, 3-0 as the visitor this season, may not have forward Caron Butler back tonight because of back spasms and he has missed three straight games. He is listed as questionable and is averaging 14.7 points this season.