When: 10:30 PM EST
Where: Crypto.com Arena; Los Angeles, Calif.
How to watch: NBA TV
Outfitting: Hornets — Association (white); Clippers — Statement (black)
CHA: Cody Martin (knee surgery), OUT; Terry Rozier (hip contusion), DOUBTFUL; Dennis Smith Jr. (ankle sprain), OUT.
LAC: Paul George (knee), QUESTIONABLE; Reggie Jackson (Achilles), QUESTIONABLE; Norman Powell (groin), OUT; Ivica Zubac (knee), QUESTIONABLE.
The Charlotte Hornets are slated for a late-night NBA TV match up with the Los Angeles Clippers following a streak-snapping win in Sacramento.
Kelly Oubre Jr. dropped 31 points, LaMelo Ball put up 16 points and two assists in the fourth quarter and Nick Richards posted his eighth double-double off the bench this season (third-most in the NBA) to help Charlotte snap an eight-game losing skid. With Rozier’s hip injury hopefully on the mend, the Hornets are inching closer towards a fully-healthy starting lineup and rotation.
The first meeting of the season between these teams saw Kawhi Leonard score on consecutive possessions to end the game, including a soul-crushing mid-range jumper with 1.4 left on the clock as the Clippers claimed a 119-117 win back on Dec. 5. The Hornets were without Ball and Hayward in that game, while LA was mostly healthy. Beyond Zubac, the Clippers have a critical lack of size — both Mason Plumlee and Nick Richards corralled double digit rebounds in the last contest. They should be able to take advantage in a similar fashion tonight.
We might be in for a rock fight this evening. The Hornets have been 30th in offense for quite some time, but the Clippers are only one spot ahead in 29th; they’re bottom-10 as a team in effective field goal percentage (52.9), 24th in seconds per possession (14.7) and 28th in both assist to turnover ratio (1.45) and field goals made per game (38.9). There’s really no facet of offense that LA excels in right now despite having a top-25 scorer league-wide in Paul George.
Part of the reason the Clippers have struggled offensively is that Leonard has had a really tough go at it this year — up until last week. He’s played in just 11 games due to ongoing knee issues and it seems like its affected his rhythm quite a bit as he’s shooting 44.4 percent from the field, 23.3 percent from three and 73.2 percent from the line, all career-lows by far. However, he put up a season-high 31 points and nine rebounds last time out against Washington, leading LA to their fourth win in five games. The Clippers have had three days off since then, so a well-rested Leonard has a chance to continue rounding into form.
Swarm Minute: Mark Williams ankle sprain has healed, and he and Two-Way rookie Bryce McGowens have joined the Greensboro Swarm in time for the G League Winter Showcase in Las Vegas. The Swarm didn’t qualify for the Showcase Cup tournament, but will face off against Ignite at 1:00 PM EST on ESPN2 on Thursday after falling to the Sioux Falls Skyforce (Miami affiliate) yesterday.
OFFICIAL: We have transferred two-way player Bryce McGowens to the @greensboroswarm in advance of the @nbagleague showcase. McGowens joins Williams with the Swarm and both players will be available to play in tonight’s game against Sioux Falls. https://t.co/6dnFNie1Qn— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) December 19, 2022
The Hornets received a heroic effort from Ball, a 30-point game from Oubre and a 23-minute double-double from Richards to get back in the win column even with the schedule stacked against them. Let’s see how much gas if left in the tank tonight.