Where: United Center, Chicago, IL
When: Saturday, December 5, 8:00 PM EST, 7:00 PM CT
Watch: Fox Sports Southeast
After losing in blowout fashion to the Golden State Warriors, the Charlotte Hornets will look to bounce back against a Chicago Bulls team they have had success against this year. The first matchup in early November ended in a 130-105 route at Time Warner Cable Arena in favor of the Hornets. The second, a few weeks later, the Hornets played the Bulls tough but lost 102-97 in Chicago. Meeting for the third time in this young season is odd, especially since they aren't a division opponent, but give the success that Charlotte has had against Chicago, it should be a good game to watch.
The Bulls are ranked second in the East heading into this game at 11-5 and have the fourth ranked defense in the league in terms of defensive efficiency. Two worlds will collide in that realm seeing as the Hornets (10-8) sport the league's fourth ranked offense in their own right. The Hornets perimeter playmaking with Nicolas Batum, Kemba Walker, and Jeremy Lin will be going up against some stalwart Bulls defenders in Tony Snell and Jimmy Butler.
Where the Hornets may have an advantage in this one will be with their second unit, something that has been a strength for the Hornets as of late. Coach Steve Clifford has gotten some of the rotation figured out, and guys have started to thrive within the read and react offense he has instilled this year. Jeremy Lamb averaged 17.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in those first two contests and Jeremy Lin gave them 15 points, five rebounds, and four assists in the first matchup. The Bulls are hurting for depth on the perimeter with the current injuries they have to the roster, and that is where the Hornets can strike.
Both teams are playing well, even though the Hornets couldn't pull it out against the defending champs the other night. Charlotte will look to add to their hot streak, winning five of their last seven games heading into Saturday night's showdown with Chicago. They'll have to do battle without center Al Jefferson, who is still sitting due to an injury and may be out for a few more weeks. Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky, and Spencer Hawes will have to continue to step up in his absence against an elite Bulls front line of Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, Joakim Noah, and Taj Gibson.
If the Hornets can keep up with the Bulls on the boards and take care of the ball on the perimeter against the stout Chicago defense, they'll have a chance to slow down a hot Bulls team and move back into the playoff picture.