After an extended five-game road trip, the Charlotte Hornets finally return home to take on the Los Angeles Lakers in their first meeting of the season.
The Charlotte Hornets looks to stay on track against the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday after snapping a four-game losing streak against the Atlanta Hawks over the weekend. Their long road trip didn’t go as planned as the team dropped four of five games but now back at home, they will look to piece together a few wins and get the momentum in their favor.
Los Angeles Lakers (11-19) at Charlotte Hornets (14-13)
7:00 PM EST, Tuesday, December 20th, 2016
TV – Fox Sports Southeast
Radio – WFNZ 610 AM
Lou Williams, and not much else. While the Lakers have a young roster full of exciting prospects who have shown flashes at times, the veterans are still the most established threats. Lou Will is indisputably the Lakers’ best scorer; putting up 19 points per game on 60% true shooting. Nick Young has played surprisingly well so far this season, and D’Angleo Russell has taken a sizable step forward.
Although Jordan Clarkson has taken a step back, at least statistically, he remains a very talented player. Clarkson’s dip in advanced metrics is likely due to the fact that he is coming off the bench this year.
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All in all Charlotte’s primary worry should be matching up on the wing, which shouldn’t be a problem. Nicolas Batum and KMichael Kidd-Gilchrist should be able to lock down the two largest threats at any given time, allowing Clifford to hide Kemba Walker on the remaining small.
While LA got off to a surprising start defensively, they have plummeted to the second worst defense in the NBA in terms of efficiency. The backcourt and wing spots are particularly vulnerable.
Be it because of youth (Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell) or ineptitude (Nick Young, Lou Williams), the Lakers are hopeless on the perimeter. The Hornets should have no trouble taking advantage. Expect to see a lot of Kemba-Cody Zeller pick and rolls, and Marco Belinelli relentlessly running his man around screens.
The Lakers defense is predicated primarily on switching. At 6’8″, Batum possesses the size to abuse such a mismatch although he hasn’t worked out of the post much in his career. On the other hand, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist seems to play his best offense out of the post. Perhaps Coach Clifford could squeeze some efficient possessions out of throwing MKG into the post after a switch.
Clearly the main attraction tonight will be the match ups at the guard and small forwards positions. While no night is a given in the NBA, this is about a winnable of a game you’ll find on the schedule. At home, coming off a couple days’ rest against a young turnover-prone team is clearly a must-win.