The Hornets are about to get their last break from the head-to-head grind of the Western Conference playoff race, but each remaining game is still crucial to their playoff hopes.
They are 43-33 and tied with the Grizzlies for the final two spots in the Western Conference playoffs, a game behind Portland after the Trail Blazers bested Oklahoma City Friday night.
The Hornets, who had tied the Blazers and clinched the tiebreaker with them by beating them, 95-91 on Wednesday, didn't look like a team fighting for the playoffs in their 93-81 loss to the Grizzlies on Friday night in the New Orleans Arena.
"This is a tough loss," guard Chris Paul said, "especially coming off an emotional win."
The Hornets lead the season series against the Grizzlies, 2-1, with another meeting coming April 10 in Memphis, so the tiebreaker is still up for grabs.
New Orleans plays host to Indiana on Sunday before finishing the regular season with five consecutive games against Western Conference opponents.
"We haven't accomplished anything yet," coach Monty Williams said. "I felt we relaxed a bit (Friday). That has not been a trend at all and we certainly are not going to allow it to become one. That is something we can't see again."
The Hornets remain close to securing one of the eight spots in the Western Conference as their magic number is three. Any combination of New Orleans wins and Houston losses totaling three will put the Hornets in the playoffs. But even if the Hornets clinch, the positioning among the bottom three teams could change almost daily until the season ends April 13.
"It's human nature to look at (the standings)," Williams said, "but it's not like I have them on a clipboard at home and I stare at them when I'm in my kitchen."
GRIZZLIES 93, HORNETS 81: The Hornets had their lowest-scoring first quarter of the season and could never catch up. They made just 6-of-21 shots in the first quarter and finished the half with 38 points, their fourth-fewest in the first half this season. The Hornets got no closer than six points the rest of the way as they couldn't slow down Grizzlies F Zach Randolph, who finished with 28 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists.
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