The Washington Wizards are in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007-08, but they need to take advantage of games like Saturday's - a home contest against the struggling New Orleans Pelicans. The Wizards opened the second half with their third straight loss Tuesday against Toronto but rebounded with a 114-97 win at Atlanta on Wednesday to take over fifth place in the East. Washington has won four straight in the series, including a 102-96 victory Jan. 8 in New Orleans.

Just three games behind fourth-place Chicago, the Wizards still have a shot at hosting a first-round series but they're also just 3 1/2 games clear of ninth-place Detroit and would like to start building a cushion. "We know it's a two- or three-game spread from the third spot and it's two or three games away from being in the eighth spot or out of the playoffs, so it's definitely a tight race right now," Wizards point guard John Wall told reporters. "We've just got to find a way to get on a streak. We haven't been on a good streak. I think it's time for our team." The Pelicans already faced an uphill climb to get into the Western Conference playoff picture, and now they've lost their first two games after the All-Star break and four of five overall.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBA TV, FSN New Orleans, CSN Washington

ABOUT THE PELICANS (23-31): New Orleans has endured too many key injuries to stay afloat in the power-packed Western Conference, and two of its top four scorers - forward Ryan Anderson (back) and guard Jrue Holiday (stress fracture in right tibia) - remain sidelined. Big man Anthony Davis continues to impress and is a solid building block, but the Pelicans just don't have enough offensive firepower with two of their top scorers out. Second-year point guard Brian Roberts has blossomed since being forced into a greater role by Holiday's injury, scoring in double figures in seven straight games and tying his career high with 20 in a 90-87 loss at Charlotte on Friday.

ABOUT THE WIZARDS (26-28): Washington is at full strength for the moment, and it showed with seven players scoring in double figures against the Hawks. Wall is the catalyst, averaging career highs in points (19.9) and assists (8.6), but the Wizards have done a nice job of building a strong core. Bradley Beal (17 points) gives them another player who can create offense on his own, and big men Nene and Marcin Gortat have been effective, especially when they're on the court together.


1. Washington is 10-0 at home when shooting for a higher percentage from the field than its opponent.

2. The Pelicans lead the NBA with an average of 6.46 blocked shots while the Wizards allow just four blocks per contest, seventh-fewest in the league.

3. Wizards F Trevor Booker is 14-for-17 from the field over the past three games, averaging 9.3 points during that stretch.

PREDICTION: Wizards 102, Pelicans 99