(Sports Network) - The New Orleans Hornets have pretty much locked up their third postseason appearance in four years and are still jockeying for position in the Western Conference standings.
The Hornets are seeded seventh in the conference standings -- a half-game in front of Memphis and a half-game behind Portland with five games to go -- and will resume a five-game homestand tonight versus the Houston Rockets. They are 2-1 on the residency and have won four of the previous six games, including Sunday's 108-96 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
Trevor Ariza and Chris Paul registered 19 and 18 points, respectively, for the Hornets, who shot 51.2 percent and are 26-12 at home. Emeka Okafor contributed 14 points and 17 rebounds in a winning effort and Carl Landry had 18 points.
"We came out aggressive on both ends of the court, and we built up a nice cushion," said Paul, who also handed out eight assists. "We had a lot more energy tonight and it made the difference."
New Orleans is also slated to host Phoenix on the residency and will clinch a postseason spot with a win tonight.
Meanwhile, the Rockets are barely alive in the playoff hunt and reside three games in back of the Grizzlies for the final slot with only four games remaining in the regular season. Another setback would be detrimental to the team's chances of reaching the postseason.
Houston lost for only the third time in 11 tries with Tuesday's 104-101 loss versus the Sacramento Kings in Space City. Kevin Martin scored a game-high 30 points and Luis Scola posted 18 points and 10 rebounds in defeat. Martin has scored 30 or more points in three straight contests.
"It's a tough loss. We just didn't do enough at either end of the court," Rockets head coach Rick Adelman said. "They had a lot of points in the paint. We missed a lot of wide-open shots. Missed free throws. We just didn't what we had to do at either end of the court to win it."
Most Improved Player of the Year candidate Kyle Lowry contributed 15 points and nine assists in a losing cause.
The Rockets are 17-22 as the visitor this season.
Houston ended a five-game losing streak to the Hornets with a 91-89 triumph on Feb. 27th at New Orleans Arena. The Hornets, however, have won six of the previous nine meetings with the Rockets as the host.