Last night's double overtime loss to Washington has left fans in the Charlotte area on the ledge, debating whether last night was it, the final straw, the moment where the city's playoff hopes evaporated.
The loss to the Wizards put the Hornets a game-and-a-half back of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race. They are currently in 11th place behind Indiana and Brooklyn respectively.
Their opponent tonight is the team atop those standings, the Atlanta Hawks. The Hornets and Hawks are meeting for the third time this season with each gaining a win in the two that have already been played. Early in the season, the Hornets found themselves in another double-overtime game. On November 7, the Hawks entered Time Warner Cable Arena without the notoriety they have earned at this point in the season. In the early season meeting, newcomer Lance Stephenson banked a 3-pointer to win the game 122-119 as the buzzer sounded. 22 days later Charlotte and Atlanta met again, this time in the ATL. The Hawks wiped the floor with the Hornets, cruising to a 105-75 win on November 29.
It's hard to believe but it's been about four months since the two divisional rivals have met. Coming off a loss that saw the Hornets blow a lead after missing their first 11 shots of the fourth quarter, a win would be very welcomed here. Charlotte has lost eight of their last 10 games and as I mentioned before, last night's fall might have turned the lights off on the season for many Hornets fans. But in a day where fans, media, or any other follower of sports is so quick to turn, good or bad, on a subject, I'm interested to see the reaction if the Hornets can pull out a win tonight.
If they do, they may have to do it without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The nationally underrated MKG injured his ankle on layup in the third quarter of last night's loss. The warrior he is, he stayed on the floor and tried to play through it. Later in the game he tweaked the ankle again, forcing him off the floor and into the locker room. In-and-out of the locker room with a limp, Kidd-Gilcrhist would not return to the game. He was officially listed with a left ankle sprain. When questioned after the game about his availability for tonight's game, MKG responded, "I don't know. We'll just have to see tomorrow." He left the Verizon Center last night on crutches and their has been no update on his situation at this point in the day.
The Baby Spurs have won two in a row after an unusual 3-game skid. Atlanta beat the Heat last night in the A, 99-86. Both teams will be on the second half of a back-to-back as they meet tonight at the Hive. With Kidd-Gilchrist possiblyout and Al Jefferson hampered by a knee injury, it'll be up to Charlotte's backcourt to carry the load. Jeff Teague usually as his way offensively with a Hornets guard but Kemba Walker is usually able to exploit Teague on the other end. Walker and Mo Williams will need to have efficient, high scoring outputs for Charlotte to pull themselves out of this hole and give them one more shot at getting out of the lottery underworld.
The Hornets and Hawks tip-off tonight at 7 p.m. ET at Time Warner Cable in the third of the two team's four meetings this season.