Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC
When: 7:00 p.m. EST
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The Hornets started the current four game home stand with a strong win against the lowly Magic. It seemed to be the start of what should be, at worst, a 3-1 record during that 4 game stretch. All the Hornets had to do was pick up a couple home wins against the NBA’s worst team and a struggling Lakers team. They botched the game against the worst team in the league. Now this Lakers game doesn’t seem so promising.
The Lakers, like the Hornets, come into the game at 9-15. They’re coming off a 107-104 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night thanks to a last second Brandon Ingram 3-pointer. The Duke product has made a leap in his second season and shares the team lead in scoring with rookie Kyle Kuzma at 16.2 points per game. They are joined by five other Lakers players that average over 9 points per game.
That balanced scoring hasn’t led to offensive success. The Lakers sit 28th in the league in offensive efficiency and are one of just three teams to average less than 100 points per 100 possessions. The acquisition of rookie point guard Lonzo Ball seemed to carry the expectation that he would unlock the team’s offense, but that hasn’t been the case thus far. LaVar’s son hasn’t quite reached the lofty expectations his father put on him, but he’s been solid nonetheless. Among rookies, he currently sits second in scoring, fourth in rebounding, and second in steal. The big issue with him has been his inability to put the ball in the basket. He’s shooting an MCW-esque 31.2% from the field and 24.3% from 3.
As surprising as it sounds, the Lakers bread is buttered on the defensive end of the floor. Luke Walton’s bunch are the 8th best defensive team in the league, a 22 spot rise from their last place finish a season ago. However, that number may be a bit of a mirage.
Last week, I talked about how allowing opponents to shoot 3-pointers was a recipe for a poor defense. The Lakers have allowed their opponents to shoot nearly 30 3-pointers a game, but the 33.7% of attempts that have been converted against them is tied for the lowest rate in the league. That’s not to say they’ve been guarding the three point line well. They give up about a league average amount of 3’s that are categorized as either open or wide open. Their opponents are converting the fourth lowest percentage on those attempts in the entire league.
For the Hornets to win, they need to put the ball in the basket. The Lakers are by far the worst 3-point shooting team in the league, so they may not be able to exploit the Hornets main defensive weakness. The result of this game will probably come down to whether or not the Hornets make their open shots. They’ve struggled with that lately, so tonight will be anyone’s ballgame.