New Orleans, who hasn't exactly been in a rush to get injured veterans like Emeka Okafor, Jason Smith and Eric Gordon back on the floor, has a 8-27 record in the first-year of the post Chris Paul era. With two lottery picks in the upcoming draft, their front office probably spends as much time watching Kentucky as UNC play as they do any NBA team.
The Hornets will be glad to get out of the month of February, which saw them lose 10 of 14 games. They lost 96-81 to Dallas on Jan. 7 and 83-81 mid-January when Dirk Nowitzki was being held out of games to improve his conditioning.
Dirk left the Mavericks loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday with stiffness in his lower back but waived off any concerns about whether the injury would linger. And with Lamar Odom still in the wind, Dallas will need 30+ minutes from their All-Star PF tonight.
In an effort to minimize the drastic talent difference they face most nights, coach Monty Williams has New Orleans playing at the league's slowest pace. It's kept their defense respectable but the lack of easy offense in transition has the Hornets dead last in the NBA in offensive efficiency.
For the Mavericks, who are in the middle of a stretch of nine games in eleven days, getting out to a fast start against New Orleans is critical, as the longer they let them stay in the game, the more their confidence will grow and the worse they'll be at the end of next week.
The 7:00 PM game will be broadcast regionally on Fox Sports Net Southwest.