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- In their last trip to Oakland on Jan. 26, the Hornets picked up a 112-103 win that pushed their winning streak to 10 straight games. Since then, New Orleans has gone 2-7 — but coach Monty Williams sees a silver lining to the struggles. “Some of the guys on our team, this is the first time they’ve been in this situation — Marco (Belinelli), Jason (Smith), Marcus (Banks),” Williams said. “Jarrett (Jack) has never been to the playoffs. I’m talking to these guys about making a playoff push, some of them have no ideas what I’m talking about. I think the older guys know it, guys who’ve been there. But sometimes, you have to go through a tough stretch to realize it. These games we’ve played lately should help us understand the kind of basketball we have to play.”
- Hornets point guard Chris Paul is deservedly lauded for his athleticism, but Warriors coach Keith Smart finds him to be a formidable intellectual foil as well. During the Jan. 26 game, when Smart started to call out a play from the bench, Paul decoded the Warriors’ plans and relayed them to his teammates. Except Smart had taken a precaution for just such an eventuality. “I told him, ‘No, we changed that call because we knew you knew it,'” Smart said. “He was right there directing his team.” So, did Smart change his calls again tonight? “No. We kept them the same, because it would confuse our guys.”
- Williams is hopeful that Hornets center Emeka Okafor (left oblique strain) will be ready to go on Feb. 23, when New Orleans hosts the Clippers in their first post-All-Star break game, but he sounds far from certain: “We’d like to think so. That’s the prayer. We need him back. You really don’t understand how important a guy like that is until you don’t have him.”
- Despite having $19 million in expiring contracts on the books, the Warriors are not making much noise publicly when it comes to trade deadline talks. Smart said that doesn’t keep players from watching the ESPN crawl: “Every player follows it. And sometimes, as our business goes, when nothing is being talked about, watch out.”
- Warriors reserves Acie Law (sprained right wrist) and Lou Amundson (back spasms) will each miss their seventh consecutive game, although Smart said Law could possibly return Wednesday in Utah for Golden State’s final game before the All-Star break.
– Geoff Lepper