The Raptors' brief stopover in the Big Easy just got a little harder.
The team's leading scorer, Chris Bosh, is not expected to play, although he did travel with the team after spraining his right knee on Wednesday night in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Tests at Mount Sinai Hospital on Wednesday night showed no structural damage to the knee, but the team still is listing him as doubtful for the game with the host Hornets.
The news on the injury front wasn't all bad, however, for the struggling Raptors.
Point guard Jose Calderon, who sat out the entire Lakers game to rest his strained right hamstring -- an injury which forced him to miss 11 games in January -- is with the team and listed as probable for the Hornets game.
The matchup, which normally would favour the hosts dramatically even with a healthy Bosh, is a bit of a coin flip with the Hornets dealing with their own injury troubles.
Point guard Chris Paul, who leads the league in assists and steals and is the Hornets' leading scorer, is expected to sit out his second consecutive game after suffering a mild groin strain Monday in a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Paul, like Bosh, is the undisputed cornerstone of his franchise. In the 131/2 minutes he missed Monday, the Hornets were outscored 42-17.
Things didn't get much better without Paul on Wednesday as Antonio Daniels and Devin Brown attempted to fill his very big shoes in another disappointing loss, this time to the visiting Chicago Bulls.
The Raptors have lost four in a row but the Bugs have been stung lately too with a four-game losing streak of their own.
The difference is the Raptors have lost four or more in a row on four separate occasions this season. The Hornets haven't lost four in a row since March 2007.
The Hornets, though, have more than just Paul's expected absence to deal with. Centre Tyson Chandler already has missed eight consecutive games -- a span in which the Hornets are just 3-5 -- and while he has been making noise about a return as early as tonight, head coach Byron Scott has been saying his centre will not be back until after the all-star break.
It all adds up to a winnable game for the Raptors, save for the absence of Bosh, combined with the unpredictable nature of this team -- a great all-round effort in the loss to the Lakers was preceded by three indifferent efforts in losses to Milwaukee, Orlando, and Cleveland.
"I think that was the first game in a while we played end-to-end," Raptors centre Jermaine O'Neal said after the game.
"We shared the ball and really didn't get in the quick catch-and-shoot offence that really puts our defence in tough situations. If we can build off that and continue to play that way, I think we can make good things happen."
Only tonight the Raptors are going to have to get by without the services of Bosh, their only all-star.