The New Orleans Hornets will open the abbreviated NBA season at Phoenix on Dec. 26 and play their home opener against the Boston Celtics two nights later.
The NBA released its schedule Tuesday after finalizing a reduced season from 82 to 66 games for all teams because of the lockout.
The Hornets will play 10 of their first 17 games in the New Orleans Arena, including a game against Dirk Nowitzki and the defending champion Dallas Mavericks on Jan. 21.
New Orleans will have two home games against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, who eliminated the Hornets in a first-round playoff series, 4-2, last season, on March 14 and April 9.
The Hornets have just one home game against reigning scoring champion Kevin Durant and Southwest Division rival Oklahoma City on Jan. 11 and will not have a home game against NBA runner-up Miami. Their final home game of the regular season will be against Southwest Division rival Houston on April 19.
The most common night for Hornets home games will be Wednesday (11), followed bv Friday (seven), Monday (six), Saturday (four), Thursday (three), and Sunday (two).
All home games will tip off at 7 p.m. with the following exceptions: Monday, Jan. 16 vs. Portland (2 p.m.); Sunday, Jan. 29 vs. Atlanta (6 p.m.); and Sunday, April 15 vs. Memphis (6 p.m.).
The Hornets’ longest road trip will be a six-game swing from Feb. 15-28 which includes back-to-back-to-back games against Oklahoma City, Indiana, and Cleveland.
Every NBA team will play at least one set of back-to-back-to-back games, and a total of 42 will be played as result of the late start caused by the lockout. The season was scheduled to begin Nov. 1, but instead will begin on Christmas.
New Orleans longest homestand is five games, which takes place at the end of the regular season (April 7-15).
The Hornets will appear on national television twice (both road games). New Orleans will play Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and the New York Knicks on Feb. 17 on ESPN and Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors on TNT on April 24. The Hornets will also appear on NBATV seven times, including both road matchups against Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers (March 26 and April 22).
Teams will play 48 conference games and 18 against the opposing conference, meaning they play only three non-conference opponents home and away.
The compacted schedule creates unusually demanding stretches, such as the nine games in 12 nights the Atlanta Hawks face starting with their Dec. 27 opener.
The Denver Nuggets, hit hard by free agency with three of their players in China, face another difficult obstacle in the schedule. They play five games in six nights spanning the new year, including a home-and-home set with the Lakers on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
The league’s 66th season begins with five nationally televised games on Christmas, including the Lakers hosting the Chicago Bulls. Los Angeles then visits Sacramento the next night before returning home to host Utah on Dec. 27 as it opens with a back-to-back-to-back set.
The NBA preserved its most storied rivalry, with the Lakers traveling to Boston for a Feb. 9 matchup before the Celtics open a stretch of eight road games in 13 nights in March with games on back-to-back nights at Staples Center.
Dallas and Miami also will play twice, following their Christmas NBA Finals rematch with a March 12 game in Miami. The Heat and Lakers also play two games.
Aging teams such as the Celtics, Lakers and Mavericks will have to pace themselves, while younger teams such as Oklahoma City figure to be better prepared for the grind.
“You’re not going to have those breaks of three or four days that you sometimes got in the old 82-game schedule, when it was the normal regular schedule,” former NBA coach and current analyst Mike Fratello said during the schedule announcement on NBA TV. “Now with everything being compacted, games come that much more quickly, you’ve got to gear up back up again, you move onto the next one immediately.”