Of the 14 remaining games this season, 11 come against teams that are playoff-locks or opponents on the fringe (Lakers, Utah, ) with attainable post-season aspirations.

“It’s not an easy stretch, but it’s the type of challenge you want,” Mason said. “For us, I think it will be a good measure of where our heart is at and how we compete going into next season.

“We have to learn. Obviously this has been a tough stretch here. No one is going to come to save us. It’s going to come (from) within. I think we have a resilient group. I’m excited about these next few games to see how we respond. It’s always run to see how things go when there’s a challenge ahead. And we have a challenge ahead right now, but I think we’ll be OK.”

The biggest challenge for the Hornets, though, will be to rediscover how to play defense.

– Reported by Jimmy Smith of theĀ New Orleans Times-Picayune