at LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
Tip-off: Sunday, 9:30 p.m. ET
Line: N/A, Total: N/A
The Hornets will be hoping to pick up a big road victory over the Clippers on Sunday night.
Charlotte is coming off of a meeting with Sacramento on Saturday, and the team can badly use a victory over the Clippers in this one. The Hornets are sliding down the standings in the Eastern Conference, and this team needs to start putting together some wins fast. If they do not then they are going to miss out on the postseason and that would be quite the disappointment, as this team had serious aspirations heading into the season. Charlotte made the playoffs a year ago, and the team heavily invested in the core of that team. The Clippers, meanwhile, are also going to need to earn a victory on Sunday night. Los Angeles has some work to do in the Western Conference, but the team should be able to get it going over the remainder of the year. Chris Paul (Thumb) is now close to fully healthy for the Clippers, and his presence in the lineup should propel them moving forward. Games like these are important for Los Angeles, though. They need to handle the teams that they are expected to beat, and the Clippers should definitely expect a win on Sunday. They have now beaten the Hornets five straight times and nine times out of 10 as well. Los Angeles is 7-3 ATS in those contests, and the team has also defeated Charlotte as recently as Feb. 11. The Clippers were 2.5-point road underdogs in that game, and they ended up winning 107-102.
When the Hornets last faced the Clippers, SF Nicolas Batum played a very good game for Charlotte. Batum finished that one with 25 points, eight assists, six rebounds and a block in 37 minutes of action. He was also an efficient 7-for-13 from the floor in that game, and the Hornets can really use another performance like that on Sunday. Los Angeles is weakest at the small forward position, so Batum should be able to play well again. The Hornets will, however, need a lot more from PG Kemba Walker, who was a miserable 4-for-18 from the floor and 1-for-9 from the outside the last time these teams met. Chris Paul didnít even play in that game, so things could be more challenging for Walker this time around. The good news is that itís unlikely Walker will shoot that poorly again. He missed some good looks the last time they played, and he knows the importance of this game. Another guy worth looking out for is C Frank Kaminsky. Kaminsky has added a nice boost of offense for the Hornets lately, and he actually had 20 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two blocks against the Clippers last game. His ability to shoot the ball also happens to drag DeAndre Jordan out of the paint, so itíd be big if Kaminsky can knock some shots down here.
The last time the Clippers faced the Hornets, PG Chris Paul was unable to play for Los Angeles. He should be out there on Sunday, though. Thatís going to give the Clippers a major boost, and they just might blow this Hornets team out. Considering they won in Charlotte without Paul, itís a safe assumption that the team will look even better with him in the lineup. SG Austin Rivers played well in Paulís place in that game, so he might see some extended minutes on Sunday. Rivers had 18 points and five assists in 38 minutes of action in that one, and he should play at least 25 minutes this time around. On the inside, both PF Blake Griffin and C DeAndre Jordan should be able to feast against Charlotte. With Kaminsky starting at center, the Hornets are pretty soft inside. Griffin and Jordan took advantage of that last game, combining to rack up 28 rebounds. Griffin also had 20 points and eight assists, and he looks to be fully healthy right now. Another guy to keep an eye on in this game is SG Jamal Crawford, as the sixth man had 22 points against Charlotte in their last meeting.