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Preview: Can the banged-up Hornets snap their three-game losing streak tonight against the Spurs?

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After a four-game winning streak, the Hornets are now hoping to avoid dropping their fourth straight game on their west coast trip.

San Antonio Spurs v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (20-21) at San Antonio Spurs (22-17)

When: 8:30 pm EST

Where: AT&T Center; San Antonio, TX

How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

The Hornets continue their brutal five-game west coast road trip tonight against the San Antonio Spurs. Charlotte has to be feeling some fatigue with this being their fourth game in six days after already tangling with some of the best teams in the league in the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Los Angeles Clippers. Unfortunately for the reeling Hornets, easy victories never exist when facing Gregg Popovich’s teams, especially in San Antonio.

Making matters worse, the Hornets have been bit by the injury bug. LaMelo Ball is expected to miss the rest of the season, which is just a depressing thought. Cody Zeller isn’t expected to play tonight. Terry Rozier is listed as day-to-day. Winning in San Antonio is hard enough with a fully healthy roster. The Hornets are far from that.

San Antonio Spurs Overview

The word that best describes the Spurs is balance. While San Antonio’s scoring is led by DeMar DeRozan at 20.3 points per game, the Spurs have seven other players who average somewhere between 11.0 and 15.8 points per contest. This is a deep team full of capable veteran players and solid contributors. If one guy has an off night, there are plenty of others on the roster who can fill in the gaps.

This balance was on full display when the Spurs beat the Hornets 122-110 in Charlotte on February 14th. DeMar DeRozan had a terrible night by his standards scoring just eight points on 3-of-8 shooting in 35 minutes. With DeRozan struggling, Dejounte Murray stepped up with 26 points, Derrick White dropped 25, and four others scored in double figures.

The Spurs have a below-average offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions) at 109.8 which ranks 19th in the league and barely trails the Hornets rating of 110.8. Interestingly, San Antonio can struggle scoring at times as their team true shooting percentage of 55.2% ranks just 25th in the league. Let’s hope the Hornets catch the Spurs on a cold shooting night.

While they can struggle on offense at times, San Antonio excels on the defensive end and taking care of the ball. Their defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) of 109.6 ranks 10th in the league compared to the Hornets 112.2. The Spurs are best in the NBA in taking care of the ball as their 11.3% turnover percentage is lowest in the league.

This is a smart, experienced, balanced, and well-coached team that rarely shoots itself in the foot. If the Hornets are going to pick up a victory tonight, they’re going to have to take it. Nothing will be given to them.

How the Hornets Can Win

It all comes down to four words: Stop the point guards!

Derrick White and Dejounte Murray combined for 51 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists, and six steals when these two teams played last month, allowing San Antonio to win by 12 on the road on a night when DeMar DeRozan was uncharacteristically bad.

Of course, stopping the Spurs point guards would be a lot easier with LaMelo playing. His injury is just a gut punch. Losing him is just sad and will cast a pall upon the rest of this season. His absence will make it increasingly difficult for the Hornets to hold on to their tenuous playoff position.

All the best, LaMelo. Heal up soon!

Poll

What’s your prediction for tonight’s game?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Hornets win easy
    (5 votes)
  • 22%
    Hornets win a close one
    (25 votes)
  • 17%
    Spurs win a close one
    (19 votes)
  • 55%
    Spurs win easy
    (62 votes)
111 votes total Vote Now