The Charlotte Hornets ended their losing streak with the kind of defense they've needed to win all season, and the New Orleans Pelicans halted theirs with an outside shooting effort that's typically absent from their arsenal.
The teams seek their first winning streak of the new year Friday night in New Orleans, though additional losing streaks loom: The Hornets are up against an eight-game road skid while the Pelicans are in danger of losing a season-worst fourth straight at home.
Wednesday's 107-84 win over Atlanta ended a season-worst seven-game losing streak for the Hornets (18-20), on which they'd fallen from 1 1/2 games back of the Hawks to 5 1/2 and last place in the Southeast Division. Charlotte limited Atlanta to 37 percent shooting.
"We did it from start to finish," said Kemba Walker, who was 9 of 13 for 23 points after shooting 30.8 percent in his previous three games. "We came out aggressive, came out some great intensity and some great togetherness. We played some good defense from the start, and maintained it. We came out with a big win."
No matter their position in the standings in recent weeks, the Hornets haven't won a game in which an opponent shot at least 42 percent since Nov. 23. For a team that allows 44 percent for the season, that's a trend that'll have to change if a playoff push is in its future.
Charlotte also needs to end a road skid that's dropped it to 4-13 in opponents' buildings. It's the team's longest since ending 2012-13 with 14 straight. The win over the Hawks followed a disappointing four-game road trip.
"This was an important game for us to kind of put that road trip behind us," Cody Zeller said after a 19-point, 10-rebound game. "We knew we had to get off to a good start to beat this team. We kind of carried it all through. To come out and play defense the way we did tonight was a big key for us."
New Orleans (12-26) hasn't been a particularly imposing team offensively, shooting 39.7 percent over a 1-4 span. In Wednesday's 109-97 victory in Sacramento, though, the Pelicans were 16 of 33 from 3-point range.
"We really did a good job of moving the ball," said coach Alvin Gentry, whose team ranks in the league's bottom half in 3-point percentage (34.9). "We were locked in early."
Eric Gordon scored 24 points and hit 6 of 12 from long range, and that was necessary with Anthony Davis going 8 of 23 from the field. The power forward still finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds, and just his presence was a boost after he missed two games with a bruised back. The Pelicans are 0-5 without him.
"He's our best player, our go-to guy," said Ryan Anderson, who hit 4 of 6 from long range on his way to 18 points. "We rely a lot on him. We have extra confidence when he's in there."
Playing in New Orleans hasn't provided any similar boost. The Pelicans, who play eight of their next nine at home, have dropped three straight there for the second time this season, averaging 88.7 points while shooting 39.3 percent and 27.4 from 3-point range on the latest skid.
The teams have split four games over the past two seasons with the Pelicans winning both in New Orleans. Davis averaged 28 points and 12.5 rebounds in last season's meetings. Walker had 31 points in the latest - a 98-94 Hornets' win on Jan. 7, 2015.