Chris Paul considered Sunday night's game against the Utah Jazz pivotal.
"Because it's at home, coming off a loss against Chicago,” Paul said before the game. "We definitely have to come out focused tonight. If we win tonight, that'll be a huge win for us.”
Paul stopped short of explaining the ramifications of a loss, but they became clear after the Jazz's 108-94 victory.
The Hornets (28-32) have dropped their first two games in March and are dangerously close to following last year's path that didn't wind toward the postseason. That path led the Hornets to a disappointing 3-11 record in March.
The Hornets begin a tough three-game road trip Tuesday against the Denver Nuggets, followed by back-to-back games against the Phoenix Suns and Jazz.
"We're going to find out what we're made of,” Hornets coach Byron Scott said of this week's trip. "We're going to find out what type of heart and what type of character we have.”
What we're going to find out is if this team can relocate the defensive prowess that made them so effective early in the season, even when the absence of injured key players stalled the team's offense effectiveness.
In what's become a recurring theme over the past two weeks, a guard, this time Utah's Deron Williams, sliced through the Hornets on his way to 20 points and six assists.
A forward, this time All-Star Carlos Boozer, bulled his way to 17 points and 12 rebounds.
And a shooter, this time big man Mehmet Okur, torched the home team for a game-high 28 points and nine rebounds.
The Hornets allowed the Jazz to shoot 48.6 percent, the sixth straight game an opponent has hit 48 percent or more from the field against them.
The Hornets also allowed 100 points or more for the fifth time in seven games. They gave up 97 points in the two games they didn't allow 100 points during that span.