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Preview: Ball brothers battle as the Hornets take on the injury-ravaged Pelicans

File this one under “must win” as Charlotte tries to keep its grasp on the No. 8 seed.

Charlotte Hornets v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (33-34) vs New Orleans Pelicans (30-37)

When: 7:00 pm EST

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

It’s always entertaining watching brothers go head-to-head in NBA games, and this is especially true for Lonzo and LaMelo Ball given their high-profile status in the league. The Hornets and Pelicans faced off back in January and Charlotte emerged with a 118-110 win. In that game LaMelo nearly dropped a triple double on his older brother’s head with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists in 26 minutes off the bench. Lonzo was nearly invisible with just five points, two rebounds, and three assists in 37 minutes. We’ll see which brother gets the upper hand in this one.

New Orleans Pelicans overview

The Pelicans are have been decimated by injuries over the past week. Zion Williamson is out indefinitely with a fractured finger while Brandon Ingram is also out indefinitely with an ankle sprain. This will only help Charlotte’s chances of securing an important win, but it takes a lot of the enjoyment out of the game with these two young stars sidelined. The Pelicans are also missing guard Josh Hart (surgically repaired thumb). Guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker and center Steven Adams have both missed time recently are were day-to-day at publication.

That means the Pelicans have Lonzo Ball, Eric Bledsoe, and...

(Searches the Pelicans depth chart...)

(Searches Basketball Reference...)


It’s going to be interesting to see what type of lineup New Orleans will come up with in this one. In Friday’s game the Pelicans featured starters James Johnson, Naji Marshall, and former Hornet Willy Hernangomez. They also got 20-plus minutes from Wenyen Gabriel, Wes Iwundu, Jaxson Hayes, and Kira Lewis Jr. Look, I follow the NBA pretty closely, and I hadn’t hear of half these guys before I wrote this post. That said, this group only lost by two points to the Philadelphia 76ers, but this isn’t a lineup that should terrify the Hornets.

For what it’s worth, Lonzo Ball is producing what is arguably the best season of his young career. In his fourth season he’s averaging nearly 15 points, five rebounds, and six assists per game, but what’s most important for Lonzo is he’s shooting a career high from the field (41.4%) and from the 3-point line (37.6%). Those aren’t great shooting splits, but teams have to at least respect his 3-point shot at this point.

How the Hornets can win

On offense, the Hornets can look to exploit the Pelicans defensive unit which ranks just 23rd in the league by allowing 113 points per 100 possessions, and that’s before the recent injuries to Zion and Ingram. Coach James Borrego should look to get PJ Washington going early and often. PJ has been outstanding scoring the ball over the last two weeks and should have some favorable matchups as he punishes New Orleans backup wings who have been thrust into the starting lineup.

On the defensive end, Charlotte just needs to contain both Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe. They are the only two proven scorers who will be suiting up for the Pelicans, and neither of them are primary scorers. They are capable secondary players and it will be interesting to see how they fare when asked to carry heavier offensive loads. Oh, and don’t let Willy Hernangomez have a revenge game! Willy went for 11 points, nine rebounds, and five assists in the Pelicans last game, so let’s hope Charlotte locks him down.

With the regular season drawing swiftly to a close, the Hornets need every win they can get to stay in command of the No. 8 seed. A home win over a depleted Pelicans would further the cause.


What do you predict from tonight’s game?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    Hornets win easy
    (26 votes)
  • 47%
    Hornets win a close one
    (31 votes)
  • 10%
    Pelicans win a close one
    (7 votes)
  • 1%
    Pelicans win easy
    (1 vote)
65 votes total Vote Now