When: 7:30 pm EST
Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, N.C.
How to watch: ESPN
CHA: Gordon Hayward: out (health protocols), Jalen McDaniels: out (left ankle sprain), Kelly Oubre Jr.: questionable (left ankle sprain).
LAL: Avery Bradley: questionable (stomach illness), Anthony Davis: questionable (right wrist soreness), Sekou Doumbouya: out (health protocols), Malik Monk: out (groin soreness), LeBron James: questionable (knee), Kendrick Nunn: out (knee), Russell Westbrook: questionable (right knee soreness).
The Charlotte Hornets have been flexed onto national television to face the Los Angeles Lakers at The Hive. The times, they are a-changin’.
After a pair of tough losses, the Hornets bounced all the way back to score a franchise-record 158 points in regulation the last time out. Oubre made 10 threes off the bench, also a new franchise record, but seems to have sprained his ankle in the effort. If he’s downgraded to “out,” Charlotte is sans three players capable of guarding James and Anthony Davis. Not great, Bob!
Davis returned to action against Brooklyn on Jan. 25 after missing 20 games with an MCL injury. He scored eight points in 25 minutes in his return, then promptly got back to the AD of old, dropping 31 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks against the 76ers last night. A wrist injury required a post-game x-ray, but thankfully for him it came back negative. James sat out against Philadelphia as the Lakers were on the first night of a back-to-back, so it’s more than likely he plays tonight while he deals with knee soreness.
This Lakers team is one of the biggest stories in the NBA this season, and not for the right reasons; simply put, the Russell Westbrook trade hasn’t worked out so far. Davis and James have both dealt with injury, and even when they’re healthy, the roster isn’t laden with talent. For whatever reason, head coach Frank Vogel’s seat gets hot and cold depending on each game’s result, which probably isn’t helping the cause.
Hornets legend Malik Monk has put together a solid season in Los Angeles. His per-game averages are slightly elevated from his fourth season in Charlotte, but he’s bumped up his efficiency; 40.3 percent from deep on 5.3 attempts per game, 66 percent at the rim (78th percentile per Cleaning The Glass) and a 58.3 eFG percentage (92nd percentile) are the type of numbers teams want to see from the floor-spacing play-finishers paired with James.
The Lakers aren't particularly impressive on either end of the floor, ranking in the bottom-ten offensively and 16th defensively. They’ve lost six of their last nine games, and have alternated wins and losses since Jan. 17 against Utah. In almost every aspect, including their win-loss record, they’re a middling team. But — and that’s a big but — they still have LeBron and AD.
James Borrego will likely stick with the LaMelo Ball-Terry Rozier-Cody Martin-Miles Bridges-Mason Plumlee starting five and rely heavily on PJ Washington off the bench. If Oubre is out, it might be James Bouknight time.
EDIT: the Lakers released an updated injury report a few hours after this preview was published. That ruined not only the headline, but some of the points I made in the body as well. Far too much to edit.