Entering on a High Note

The New Orleans Hornets had a hard time cementing their status as one of the NBA's elite teams before their torrid January left little doubt.

Fresh off the best month in franchise history, the Hornets look to bounce back from their first loss in three weeks and start February on a high note as they open a three-game road trip against the Sacramento Kings on Friday.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made New Orleans –3 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 204 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 82% of bets for this game have been placed on New Orleans –3 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

New Orleans (32-13) started the season strong, but remained in the shadow of Southwest Division rivals San Antonio and Dallas for the first two months of the season. The Hornets, however, tied a franchise record for wins in a month with a 12-2 record in January, giving them one of the best overall records in the league.

The franchise also had 12 wins in March 1998 (12-3) and April 1999 (12-6).

New Orleans forward Peja Stojakovic will meet his former club in Sacramento for the first time since the Kings (20-24) traded him in the middle of the 2005-06 season. He spent the second half of that campaign with Indiana before signing with New Orleans the following offseason.

Stojakovic, who spent the first seven-plus seasons of his career with the Kings, has played against them twice since his departure, but missed both of the Hornets' trips to Arco Arena last season because he was recovering from back surgery.

He's sixth in Kings franchise history with 9,498 points and first with 1,070 3-pointers.

Stojakovic had 20 points and 10 rebounds on Wednesday, but New Orleans had its nine-game win streak snapped with a 116-103 home loss against Golden State. The Hornets fell to 20-1 this season when scoring 100 points, and 7-1 when Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler and David West all record double-doubles.

"I just didn't think our energy was that great, we hadn't played that way in a long time and we just didn't come out with the usual level of intensity and energy we normally have," New Orleans coach Byron Scott said.

The Hornets aren't panicking about the defeat. They still have the best road record in the Western Conference at 16-5, and have won a franchise-record eight straight road games since falling at Portland on Dec. 17.

"We had a great month and this is one loss," said Chandler, who had 11 points and 14 rebounds Wednesday and averaged 13.4 points and 13.6 boards in January. "We have to bounce back and start another winning streak. We have a chance to go to Sacramento and continue our road winning streak."

The Hornets will put that streak on the line against a new-look Kings (20-24) team that has won eight of 12 games, thanks in part to the recent returns of Kevin Martin, Mike Bibby and Ron Artest from injuries.

That trio combined for 53 points on Wednesday, but Brad Miller stole the show with 22 points and a career-high 21 rebounds in the Kings' 105-91 win over Charlotte.

"As a big guy you always want to get 20 rebounds. It feels like I have been stuck on 19 for about five years," said Miller, a 10-year veteran. "It's a goal I always wanted to get. It feels good and the win feels good, too."

That victory was Sacramento's fifth in its last six games at home, where the Kings play their next four contests.

"Every time an opponent comes into the building we've got to look at it as that's one more team that's in our way of trying to accomplish a goal," coach Reggie Theus said.

The Kings have lost three straight games against the Hornets, including a 104-90 defeat in New Orleans in both teams' season opener Oct. 31.

Sacramento, though, has won 11 of 12 against New Orleans at Arco Arena. The Hornets snapped their 11-game losing streak there with a 125-118 victory on April 16.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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