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NBA Preview from The Sports Network

Tuesday, March 31st (All times eastern)

New Orleans Hornets (45-27) at Sacramento Kings (16-56), 10 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The New Orleans Hornets start up a three-game road trip against Western Conference also-rans tonight at Sacramento's ARCO Arena, where they'll take on a Kings team trying for its first winning streak since November.

New Orleans enters this soft stretch in seventh place in the West but sits just a half-game behind Portland and Utah in the conference standings. The Hornets are also in the hunt for a Southwest Division title, as the team is presently 2 1/2 games behind front-running San Antonio with 10 remaining in the regular season.

Following tonight's matchup, the Hornets will visit the lowly Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday before wrapping up the swing against 25-49 Golden State on Friday.

The Hornets are coming off a big home win in their last outing, as David West racked up 23 points and 16 rebounds to help New Orleans to a 90-86 decision over San Antonio on Sunday.

Chris Paul added 26 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Hornets, who halted a two-game losing streak and gained some ground on the Spurs in the division race.

New Orleans prevailed despite being without three key players for Sunday's clash. Swingman Peja Stojakovic missed his 12th straight game due to back spasms, center Tyson Chandler sat out his sixth in a row with a sore ankle, and reserve forward James Posey served a one-game suspension for an altercation with an official during the Hornets' loss at New York on Friday.

Posey also sprained his left elbow against the Knicks and will be unavailable for tonight's game, and it's likely both Stojakovic and Chandler will join him again on the sidelines.

The Hornets may not need any of those contributors against the Kings, a team saddled with the West's worst record at 16-56. Sacramento does come in on a rare high note, however, after posting a 126-118 victory over slumping Phoenix Sunday at ARCO Arena.

Jason Thompson led seven Kings players in double figures with 21 points, while Spencer Hawes tied a career best with 20 points in addition to grabbing 10 rebounds. Andres Nocioni and Francisco Garcia added 19 points each to help Sacramento win for just the second time in its last nine outings.

The Kings have not won consecutive contests since a three-game winning streak from November 5-9.

New Orleans has won two of the three previous meetings between the teams this season, including a 112-105 triumph in Sacramento on February 23.

03/31 10:33:23 ET

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