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Hornets square off against an underachieving Pelicans team

 This is the Hornets first-time meeting New Orleans this season.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Charlotte Hornets Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

What: Charlotte Hornets (11-11) vs New Orleans Pelicans (11-12)

When: 5:00 p.m. EST

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC

How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

The Hornets last game had some promising moments, even if the result was a loss. Tony Parker and Miles Bridges were able to stable the second unit quite well, as the two combined for 32 points. They were essentially trading baskets with the Utah Jazz throughout the course of the game, and as a result was never able to make a run on their own to turn the tide to their side.

In this match-up, the Hornets will be playing the New Orleans Pelicans in a mid-afternoon showdown.

The Pelicans haven’t lived up to their expectations this season. Headlined by superstar Anthony Davis, the team doesn’t have that same mojo when they acquired stretch big Nikola Mirotic during last year’s trade deadline. During that time, they had all things clicking, from defense to the deep ball from a supporting cast that Davis had never really had in his tenure in the NBA. They were able to ride that wave and sweep the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of last year’s playoffs, which many people saw as a start of a new era for NOLA.

However, that same success hadn’t translated to the 2018-2019 season, but one player’s game has. Of course, Anthony Davis is still putting up MVP-caliber numbers with the likes of 27.8 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per contest. Doing things on both ends of the floor, Davis is once again proving to be a top-five player in this league.

The thing is, it’s not like there’s a stoppage of talent when Davis is off the floor now. Between Julius Randle, Jrue Holiday and Nikola Mirotic, the Pelicans have a solid trio of guys who they can call upon to score from inside and out. This has helped tremendously in not only building sustained success throughout games but also keeping their star Davis healthy and not overly fatigued. Having this supporting trio also limits the amount of double and triple teams Davis receives inside, as he now has capable shooters who can make shots whether contested or not.

When looking at their schematics, the Pelicans deliberately are an inside-out team. They attack the paint to cause defenses to collapse more often, allowing for higher percentage looks from three. Leading the NBA in points in the paint per game (57.7) has been a success for them. This will pose a significant problem for the Hornets as their inside presence hasn’t been as effective as it once was, especially with center Cody Zeller’s new injury being up in the air. We may see Hornets’ center Bismack Biyombo may be getting some playing time today in order to stop Davis and others in the paint, similar to what he was called on to do when the Hornets played the 76ers earlier this year.

Everything looks good on paper, it’s the results that haven’t signified success for the Pelicans. They haven’t been able to close games out as eight of their twelve losses have come by ten points or less. This is why they are currently 10th in the west, the ability to close out games is crucial in the NBA.

The Hornets and Pelicans always play close and exciting games, so we should be in for a treat in this one.