When: 7:30 p.m. EST
Where: Barclays Center; Brooklyn, NY
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
Despite a 35-point performance from all-star point guard Kemba Walker, the Charlotte Hornets suffered yet another excruciating loss to a good team. This time to the Houston Rockets. To be frank, it has been an extreme struggle for the Hornets since the end of the All-Star break. A third straight loss, and seventh loss in the last nine games, has sent the Hornets tumbling out of the playoff picture.
Up next for James Borrego’s team is a trip to Brooklyn to face the Nets - a team that has seen a wonderful resurgence. Even though they are 4-7 in their last 11 games, head coach Kenny Atkinson has his team in a good position for a playoff berth going into March. Led by first time All-Star D’Angelo Russell and sixth man of the year candidate Spencer Dinwiddie (who will return from injury tonight), the Nets have seen a lot of players improve at the same time.
A devastating foot injury to Caris LeVert was supposed to kill the Nets chances of improving this season. However, Brooklyn didn’t lose their playoff positioning which says a lot about their character and toughness. Charlotte has struggled against the Nets this season, losing two of the first three meetings (although the last meeting ended with some controversy).
This is a big game for the Hornets, because they don’t want Brooklyn to own the tiebreaker in a potential playoff scenario. Although Charlotte is currently out of the post-season picture because of percentage points, they are ahead of the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat by one game in the loss column.
The Hornets have been doomed by poor play in the second half over the last few weeks (stop me if you’ve heard that before). Kemba Walker had a really good first half against Houston, but struggled from the field in the last two quarters. Although he’s scoring at his usual rate, he is only shooting 39.4% from the floor in the last six games.
As always, Charlotte starts and stops with their all-star point guard. The starting five and Jeremy Lamb played as good as you can play against a talented Rockets squad. However, the bench was dismal and they have to improve. Malik Monk has seen very little playing time over the last couple of games and Tony Parker was a -22 in his 12 minutes of action on Wednesday.
Overall, elevated play from the second unit will be the biggest key to win against a Nets team with a lot of good players. Will James Borrego make adjustments to the rotation for this game or stick with what he’s currently doing? We’ll find out tonight as Charlotte faces Brooklyn in a pivotal eastern conference matchup.