This is a weird time in basketball. It probably will be for a while.
Before I get started, I just wanted to pay my respects to the nine people who lost their lives when Kobe Bryant’s helicopter tragically crashed in Calabasas, Calif. last Sunday morning. I don’t think I have the capacity to write anything about it in full, because it’s truly unbelievable, incomprehensibly sad, and not something anyone should ever have to write — but they wholly deserve to be acknowledged.
Rest in peace Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Peyton Chester, and Ara Zobayan. Sending strength and condolences to all
When: Tuesday, January 28th, 7:00 pm EST
Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA TV
The Hornets have won three (3, tres, trois) games since Dec. 15. They’ve lost eight games in a row. These are not good statistics, my friends. Not good at all.
Thankfully, the New York Knickerbockers are also not good at all. Perhaps, even worse than the Hornets. This is a perfect opportunity to end this losing streak before a two-game road trip to Washington and San Antonio.
The Knicks are better on defense (112.3 DRTG, 24th) than the Hornets (113.1 DRTG, 27th), but Charlotte runs the better offense (105.6 ORTG, 24th), though neither are particularly good. Their first matchup was played before New York fired head coach David Fizdale and replaced him with Mike Miller (not the one you’re thinking of, I made that mistake too.) Charlotte came back from a 15-point deficit in that game and won it on a buzzer-beating three from Devonte’ Graham, one night after Malik Monk beat the Pistons in similar fashion. Devonte’ set his career-high for three-pointers made in a game with nine that night, before hitting 10 in a game the following month.
The Knicks’ injury report is light for this evening. The only player that should be out is rookie RJ Barrett (ankle), who is in a walking boot and has not played since Jan. 16. Reggie Bullock should be starting in his place.
Not a soul in sight on the Hornets’ injury report. Let’s keep it that way.
The contrast in playing styles between the Hornets and Knicks is hysterical. The Hornets take the high majority of their shots at the rim or behind the three-point line, ranking in the top-15 in both three-point attempts and paint field goal attempts per game. The Knicks, however...
Marcus Morris is in the 100th percentile for forwards in terms of frequency of long mid-range shots (26%)— Sam Perley (@sam_perley) January 28, 2020
Taj Gibson is in 98th percentile for bigs (23%)
Damyean Dotson is in 91st percentile for wings (22%)
Frank Ntilikina is in 89th percentile for guards (26%) https://t.co/SEdsGqAMIF
The Knicks play with a lot of size, which plays into their shot selection. Marcus Morris, who was strictly a stretch-four with Boston last season, is now New York’s starting small forward, with non-stretch bigs Julius Randle and Taj Gibson joining him in the frontcourt. The Hornets’ best plan for success might be to counter that with their usual small-ish lineups and try to out-run them. There are weird matchups all over the place in this one.
Not that it’s imperative for team morale, because the team is bad anyway, but the Hornets could really use a win tonight. The Knicks are one of few teams definitively worse than they are, and losing their ninth-straight game to them might put a damper on things — only a slight damper, though, because high draft picks are good too. We can never get too sad around here with high draft picks on the other side of the fence.
If Devonte’ can have the same success against the Knicks as he did in Nov., it could mark the end of his shooting slump. Over the last two games, he’s shooting 38.1% from beyond the arc on 10.5 attempts per game. Those are the type of numbers we want to see from our budding star.
Also, keep an eye out for the Monk vs. Frank Ntilikina matchup. Some trade rumors have surfaced recently, and this is a two-player swap that could happen if those rumors turned out to be true. Frankie Smokes is good now, guys. Don't forget that.