When: Feb. 28, 2017 at 10:30 p.m. EST
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA TV
Radio: WFNZ 610 AM
Talk about a brutal stretch of games. The Charlotte Hornets are deep in a road trip that takes them all across the west coast. The game also doesn’t start until 10:30 (at night!) for east coast viewers. That might not be such a bad thing if you consider the way the rest of these road games have played out for Charlotte.
The good news is that the opponent, the Los Angeles Lakers, aren’t the Lakers of old. The Hornets are slumping, no thanks to injuries, but still stands as a team capable of taking a win on the road against the Lake Show. In fact, the last time these two sides met it was Charlotte who got the win in a team effort.
Kemba Walker put up 28 points when they hosted LA back in December. Walker had plenty of help, Nicolas Batum had a team-high 10 assists and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist led all Hornets rebounders with 11.
The big problem for Charlotte is a problem with their bigs. Cody Zeller has demonstrated his value, both by his play and how much the team suffers when he isn’t good to go. The trade for Miles Plumlee was met with mixed feelings, but any positive impact he might have up his sleeve has been put on hold while he also deals with injuries.
Frank Kaminsky is going to be leaned on, once again. He’s performed surprisingly well when called upon, having his most consistent production over the past six games. He’s proven to be streaky throughout the year, but his overall level hasn’t fallen completely off during this recent stretch.
Los Angeles will be a challenge for several reasons. This is game five in a stretch of seven on the road for Charlotte. Currently, they are 1-3 on the trip with two losses coming in overtime. And if they aren’t enough from all the travel and overtime, this game will tip off around the bedtime of most normal people. Maybe 10:30 isn’t that late and I’m just showing my age.
On the court, the Lakers are going to be relying on their younger players more than ever. Nick Young hasn’t been a source of quality minutes and production recently and Lou Williams is gone, via trade with the Houston Rockets at the trade deadline.
Unsurprisingly, D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram have been the top scorers since the Williams departure. Russell will likely matchup with Kemba for most of the game and Ingram will draw MKG as a defender, presumably. Julius Randle and Larry Nance, Jr. will be a handful in the paint. Kaminsky has been able to score and grab rebounds, but his going to have a very physical experience dealing with the Los Angeles frontcourt on the defensive end of the floor.
Charlotte has an opportunity to pick up a crucial win as the season is ticking down, the Lakers are losers of their last four games and look to be short of the offensive punch they need since the Williams trade. LA scored more than 100 points in seven of the last eight games Lou was with the team and they have yet to break the century mark in the two games without him. If the Hornets can get back to their defense and keep the offense flowing, they’ll be favorite to finish this long road trip on a high note.