Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, LA
When: 10:30 p.m. EST
How to Watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The Charlotte Hornets look to go 3-1 on their four-game west road trip with a win over the struggling Los Angeles Lakers. After a decent start, the Lakers have lost eight straight games. Charlotte has had its struggles of its own but has played better on this road trip.
They started the trip off with a massive upset win at the Golden State Warriors, then a close loss to the Clippers, followed by a blowout win over the lowly Kings. The Hornets need this one over another struggling team to keep the momentum going.
Los Angeles is led by rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma. Kuzma is considered the steal of the draft and is averaging over 17 points per game, despite a recent shooting slump. Ball has been out with a shoulder injury and is questionable for the matchup against the Hornets.
The Lakers also have two young players in Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle who have played well this season. Interestingly enough, both are likely to be on the trade block, and the Hornets could be interested in both. However, on Friday night they just have to worry about covering them.
For Charlotte, the key is more balance. Their starting five has struggled with offense all year, but against Sacramento, all five starters were in double figures. Eight players were in double figures overall.
Frank Kaminsky, Jeremy Lamb, and Treveon Graham need to continue their excellent play off the bench. For the starters, it starts with Kemba Walker as always who did a nice job distributing against the Kings with 10 assists.
The best sign from the Kings game was Nicolas Batum. He was aggressive, confident, and scored 21 points on efficient shooting. He has struggled mightily this season since returning from injury, so, hopefully, this is a sign of things to come.
The Lakers beat the Hornets earlier this season in Charlotte 104-94. However, with the way the Lakers are playing the Hornets should be the better team. Charlotte needs to defend, move the ball and limit turnovers as they did against the Kings. Hitting 3’s as they did against the Kings certainly won't hurt either. The Hornets need to step on the Lakers early and not let them get too much confidence.
Charlotte is still 4.5 games out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and needs to win games like these to make up for lost ground. As long as they key on Kuzma and Clarkson and limit easy buckets for Randle and Ingram, they should be fine. The Lakers don't have too many three-point snipers.
Even though it was the Kings, Charlotte looked the best it has all season. It has shown in its wins against the Warriors that when everyone is dialed in the Hornets can be a solid team. It will take another team effort against the Lakers, so let's hope everyone shows up. Enjoy the game everyone!