NBA Hoops Hornets Host Celtics

Chris Paul claims the New Orleans Hornets are focused on earning their first postseason berth since 2003-04, but they don't seem to be showing it lately.

The Hornets try to end a dismal stretch on Monday night when they host the Boston Celtics, a team coming off one of its biggest wins of the season.

New Orleans (29-37) has dropped seven of its last eight games, including a 125-103 defeat to Washington on Saturday.

Oddsmakers have made New Orleans -6 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 190.5 total points (View NBA Sports Books). Our public betting information shows that 68% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston

+6 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

The Hornets are two games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the tightly contested Western Conference and in danger of missing the postseason for a third straight year.

Despite being diagnosed with a stress reaction in his left foot last week, Paul is trying to play out the season and led his team with 21 points and eight assists in 31 minutes on Saturday.

"As a team, we have a lot of injuries," said Paul, the reigning rookie of the year who is averaging 17.4 points and 8.8 assists this season. "We have done a great job of fighting, we are still in the playoff hunt and that's what it's all about. Making the playoffs is the only thing on my mind right now."

The Hornets will need to tighten up their defense to put together a postseason run. They gave up a season-high in points Saturday and are allowing 105.6 points over the last eight games - well above their 96.3 season average.

"I don't know if we need another wake-up call," said Hornets forward David West, who added 17 points and eight rebounds Saturday. "We are fighting for our lives, and we really don't have any room for error. We can't come out and give an effort like we did tonight. We just got outplayed."

The Celtics (20-46) own the Eastern Conference's worst record, but they outplayed one of the West's best teams Saturday, beating San Antonio 91-85. Boston won in San Antonio for the first time since Feb. 14, 1990 despite giving up a 19-point lead.

"It feels good,'' said Paul Pierce, who averages 24.7 points but had 30 in the win. "Regardless of who was supposed to be the favorite coming in. Especially the way it went down - us having the big lead and them coming back and then us keeping our composure.''

Al Jefferson recorded 20 points and 12 rebounds while Michael Olowokandi had 23 points off the bench for the Celtics, who held San Antonio to 37.3 percent (28-for-75) shooting. Boston has won three of its last five on the road following a 12-game skid.

Pierce is averaging 20.5 points in 27 career meetings with the Hornets - his lowest mark versus any opponent - but recorded 29 points and 19 rebounds in a 91-87 season-opening loss to them on Nov. 1.

Paul led New Orleans with 20 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, helping the Hornets snap a four-game losing streak against Boston.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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