Hornets at Wizards 2/23/18

Charlotte, North Carolina – The Charlotte Hornets finished up their California road trip last Saturday by defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-87. They split their four-game west coast trip and now sit at 3-3 on the season. They dropped their first two games at the Staples Center losing to the Lakers and Clippers. Charlotte ended their three-game losing streak by winning two straight against the Kings and Warriors. 

The team begins another streak of tough consecutive games tonight. They face off against the Indiana Pacers to start a three-game home stand. They play Boston Thursday as Kemba Walker returns to town, and then battle the New Orleans Pelicans Saturday.

The Pacers also sit with a 3-3 record through six games this season. The team is currently riding a three game winning streak after starting 0-3. They have a new-look team, making several moves this summer in free agency while losing a few players along the way. Indiana is still without Victor Oladipo as he is still recovering from a ruptured quad tendon. 

The new-look Pacers

In his first season with Indiana, Malcolm Brogdon is having a terrific start to his 2019-20 season. He is averaging 22.5 points per game while being the NBA’s second leading assist leader at 9.7 per game. He has stepped right in for Oladipo and has had all-star level production through six games. 

The Pacers also acquired former Suns forward T.J. Warren via trade last summer. In 34.8 minutes per game, the NC State product is averaging 15.8 points per game. Warren finally gets a change of scenery and a fresh breath of air in Indiana. After playing in a poorly run organization with a losing culture for his first five seasons, Warren can reestablish himself with the Pacers. 

The Pacers also added former Philadelphia 76er T.J. McConnell this summer. The Pacers now lead the league in TJs with three. They excited their fans by throwing out a McConnell, Leaf, and Warren three T.J. lineup last weekend. Their fans loved it as they were ecstatic on Twitter. McConnell brings that Indiana grit to the team. His intangibles are off the charts. He runs for loose balls, hustles all 94-feet of the court, and just plays with that energy coaches love.

Jeremy Lamb makes his return to Charlotte

Former Hornet Jeremy Lamb makes his return to the Spectrum Center tonight as a member of the Pacers. On June 30th, Lamb signed a three-year/$31.5 million deal with the Pacers. Lamb spent the previous four seasons playing for the Hornets before leaving for Indianapolis. The Hornets were not heading in a direction organizationally where a guy like Lamb would fit. He is now on a playoff team in the eastern conference who will look to win multiple series. 

Lamb averaged 11.6 points per game and 4.4 rebounds during his four-year tender in Charlotte. Last season he recorded a career-high in points per game (15.3) and rebounds (5.5). His most memorable moment of his last year in Charlotte was his game-winning buzzer beater from beyond half court against the Trail Blazers. 

This season for the Pacers he is averaging career highs in points (16.8) and rebounds (6.8) while shooting 46.7 percent from the field. He will look to be aggressive and put on a show against his former team tonight. 

Injury update

Miles Turner is still out with a sprained right ankle. Pacer’s rookie Goga Bitadze will likely get the start in place of Turner. Indiana’s other front court piece, Domontas Sabonis, is questionable with a left calf contusion. A depleted Pacers’ front court will help the Hornets tonight as they have struggled slowing down opposing big men and allowing an egregious amount of points in the paint. Cody Zeller will look to take advantage of the rookie Bitadze tonight. Zeller is averaging 14 points and 12.4 rebounds on the year for Charlotte and has a been a big part of their quick start to the season. 

The Hornets currently have no other injuries besides Nicolas Batum who has an injured left middle finger he suffered on opening night.