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Preview: Hornets Continue Their West Coast Trip Against The Reigning NBA Champions

Small Ball Galore

What: Charlotte Hornets (20-19) at Los Angeles Lakers (27-13)

When: 10:30 PM EST

Where: Staples Center

How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

The Charlotte Hornets continue their west coast road trip as they make their way to the Staples Center on the 2nd night of a back-to-back to face the reigning NBA Champions Los Angeles Lakers after a brutal loss to the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers are currently on a 3-game win streak and remain a top 3 seed in the Western Conference despite the absence of Anthony Davis who remains to be sidelined due to a calf injury that occurred earlier this season.

The Lakers look to be short-handed tonight as they have 5 players listed as out for tonight’s game, and 2 as probable, Lebron James (sore left ankle) and Markieff Morris (right knee contusion). The Lakers have been playing short-handed for most of the season so I would not underestimate their ability to adjust as long as #23 Suits up they have a chance.

The Hornets are going to have to stay consistent on the offensive side of the ball and limit the isolation possessions against a Lakers team that is ranked #1 in defensive efficiency and has been for the majority of the season. We saw Charlotte get away from their identity a bit last game and it hurt them early, the offense was out of sorts and they ended the game with 17 turnovers which contributed mightily to a 25-point road loss.

Look for Borrego to get Gordon Hayward going early, Charlotte is going to need a bounce-back game from Hayward if they want a shot in this one. Hayward ended the last game with a modest 7 points, the Lakers do not have a wing player that scares you defensively so Hayward should have a lot of favorable matchups tonight. Also, look for PJ Washington to have a bounce-back game against a Lakers team that will have a lot of small-ball lineups on the floor, Washington is sure to find some really good looks in tonight’s game against smaller defenders.

LaMelo Ball is going to have to play a big part in this game if Charlotte hopes to pull out the upset. The Hornets offense looks it’s most dangerous whenever LaMelo is scoring consistently, and the ball is moving all around the court. The Hornets offense will have to find multiple ways to score against an elite defense like the Lakers who just do not allow opponents to score on them especially from the three-point line. The Lakers have one of the best perimeter defenses in the NBA and it shows, LA is currently 4th in the fewest 3PM allowed per game.

The Hornets match up pretty well on paper all things considered when you look at the matchups that are presented outside of Lebron James. With Marc Gasol out and Anthony Davis still out for some weeks, the Lakers are going to present a lot of small ball lineups which bodes well for some fun rotations for James Borrego to break out in this game, expect to see some Miles Bridges and P.J Washington Center minutes in this game.