When: 8:00 p.m. EDT
Where: Smoothie King Center; New Orleans, LA
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
This game should be known as the Save Him Bowl. No two players have been included in hashtags with the word ‘save’ more than Kemba Walker and Anthony Davis, and for good reason. Both are star caliber players on small market teams without a good enough supporting cast to play relevant basketball games. Anthony Davis has already decided he wants out. It remains to be seen what Kemba Walker will do.
These two franchises are in similar situations. Both started this season with playoff aspirations. Both (likely) failed at that, and both are left with large contracts that don’t jibe with the inevitable youth movements the teams probably need to transition to, though the Pelicans are probably better off in that regard than the Hornets are.
On the basketball court, the Pelicans make the Hornets look like a good basketball team. They’re already mathematically eliminated, so their regular rotation players are sitting out with any ailment the training staff can come up with. As a result, they’ve lost ten of their last twelve games, including a 28 point drubbing at the hands of the Lakers on Sunday night. In that 12 game span, the Pelicans -12.0 net rating is second worst in the league after the Knicks.
In that stretch, they’ve been led by their only remaining competent NBA player, Julius Randle. He’s averaged 23.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game over that stretch. He’s even making 3-pointers now. Their next leading scorers have been G-League call-up and former Hornet great Christian Wood and former Hornet-for-ten-minutes-on-draft-night Frank Jackson.
In a break that’s absolutely fitting for the Hornets this season, Anthony Davis is listed as probable to return tonight after missing the last three games with a sore lower back. This continues the unverified trend of superstars missing exactly zero games against the Hornets this season. I wouldn’t rule out a late scratch though. The Pelicans may elect to sit him if they realize how packed together the teams slated to pick from sixth to ninth are and how woefully bad tonight’s opponent has been guarding the paint.
The Hornets aren’t without their own injury concerns. Cody Zeller is still out with the sorest knee known to man. He’ll likely be joined in street clothes by Marvin Williams, who’s been dealing with significant foot soreness for well over a month, according to Rick Bonnell.