Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC
When: 7:00 p.m. EST
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
Three weeks ago, the Charlotte Hornets made their first trip to Chicago losers of five consecutive games. Charlotte looked primed to put an end to the still season-long losing streak as they held a 92-83 edge going into the fourth quarter.
But a funny, albeit tragic, thing happened to the Hornet defense in the last quarter: it faltered and it was a spectacular collapse. Charlotte allowed the Bulls to score 40 points in the fourth quarter, and the Bulls came roaring back to edge out the Hornets 123-120.
Lauri Markkanen put the Hornets ahead by hitting a pair of free throws with 2.6 seconds remaining. Kemba Walker, who had been dominating all night, scored 47 points but missed a layup at the buzzer that would’ve given the Hornets the win.
That game, coincidentally enough, was the last game the Bulls won. Chicago owns the worst record in the league and are losers of 10 straight coming into tonight’s game. The Bulls are as offensively challenged as it gets, ranking 29th in points, 30th in shooting and 26th in three point shooting. For a team that doesn’t shoot the 3-ball well, the Bulls certainly have an affinity for hoisting up shots from beyond the line, attempting nearly 32 a game, the seventh most in the league. What got Charlotte in trouble back in November was Chicago attempted a bunch of 3’s per usual, 34, but on that night, knocked down 17 of them. Since that game, the Bulls have yet to match or eclipse that amount and it’d be a shame if Charlotte fell victim to an unexpected hot night from three for the second time.
Having Nicolas Batum back in the groove of things should help Charlotte’s cause. Batum played in Chicago, but that was only Batum’s second game back from injury and was held to only 26 minutes of playing time. While the Hornets get Batum at his regular allotment of minutes, they’ll be without both Frank Kaminsky and Cody Zeller. The onus of defending Markkanen, who’s averaging a solid 14 and 8, will fall on Marvin Williams and Johnny O’Bryant III.