Where: Philips Arena; Atlanta, Georgia
When: 7:00 p.m. EST
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The Charlotte Hornets hope to end their current three game road trip with a win as they take on the Atlanta Hawks tonight.
It’s been a similar story in the previous two games. The Hornets kept it close with the Heat and Pacers, only to fall behind in the fourth quarter and find it difficult to execute in the closing minutes. It’s become too familiar this season, to the point that it’s surprising when they don’t blow a fourth quarter lead.
Ironically, they last held on to win a close(ish) game against the Hawks last week. Charlotte won 121-110 by holding off the Hawks in the fourth quarter. They’ll certainly hope to repeat that if things are close again tonight.
But winning is going to take a greater effort from players not named Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, and Nicolas Batum. All three were great offensively against Indiana, scoring 67 points combined. That’s normally a receipt for success, but the rest of the team scored just 29. The bench is largely to blame with Jeremy Lamb and Frank Kaminsky combining for just 10 points (and nearly all of that was scored by Lamb).
Any progress the bench appeared to be making earlier this month seems gone at this point, but it’s vital they perform better. Cody Zeller’s return can’t come soon enough.
Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince were the hot hands in the previous matchup, combining for 26 and 21 points, respectively. Charlotte held Dennis Schroder to just 11, which should be a focus again this time around.
Despite Charlotte’s poor play on this road trip, they are the favorites. Atlanta isn’t in the winning business right now; they’re looking to lose games, and if Charlotte has a lead in the final minutes you could see the Hawks pump the brakes and let Charlotte coast.