What: Charlotte Hornets (29-38) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (38-28)
Where: Smoothie King Arena; New Orleans, Louisiana
When: 8:00 p.m. EST
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
From February 10 to March 7, few if any teams were playing better basketball than the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Pelicans won ten consecutive games, tying a franchise record, while Anthony Davis went super sayian, averaging 35 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks, two steals and posted a slashline of 55/41/90. Those numbers are equal part real as they are ridiculous. It’s like that Seinfeld episode “they’re real and they’re fantastic.”
Not to be outdone, Jrue Holiday posted 25 points nine assists and five rebounds during their win streak. Davis’ new but old running mate is enjoying the best season of his professional career and making good on that $120 million deal signed over the summer.
But here’s the thing about winning streaks: they have to end eventually. And “eventually” came way by a home 116-97 to the Washington Wizards, Friday night in New Orleans. The Pelicans were without Davis, as he sprained his ankle the contest before in Sacramento. Davis would return to the court Sunday for a virtuoso playoff game against Utah and while Davis recorded his first career triple-double, Utah walked out of New Orleans with a win and suddenly the Pelicans are on a losing streak.
For a playoff hopeful, New Orleans doesn’t defend homecourt as well as you’d expect. The Pelicans are only 17-14 at home. Offensively, New Orleans ranks among the best: the Pelicans are fourth in points, second in field goal percentage and second in assists; New Orleans also owns the eighth best offensive rating and rank second in pace.
All this to say that Charlotte had better be ready to keep up with the Pelicans’ track meet of an offense. Kemba Walker is going to be tasked with scoring and getting teammates involved, but he’ll most likely have Jrue Holiday checking him on offense and Holiday, quietly, is one of the better two-way guards in basketball. Also for you fans of nostalgia, Dwight Howard will be opposite Emeka Okafor so a revisiting of the top two picks in the 2004 draft is in store. Neat!