CHARLOTTE HORNETS (25-34)
at LOS ANGELES LAKERS (19-41)
Tip-off: Tuesday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Line: Charlotte -3.5, Total: 215.5
The Lakers will be looking to pick up a victory over the Hornets at home on Tuesday.
The Charlotte Hornets put up a tough fight in Los Angeles on Sunday night, pushing a game with the Clippers to overtime before ultimately falling 124-121 (CHA +11). It was the Hornets’ 13th loss in their last 15 games, and they’re now three full games out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture at 25-34. At 25-32-2 ATS, they have the fifth-worst record against the spread in the entire NBA. They’ll get a chance to rebound in the same arena on Tuesday night with a matchup against one of the league’s worst teams in the 19-41 Lakers (27-32-1 ATS). The Lakers have lost four straight, with the most recent defeat coming at the hands of the Spurs by a 119-98 score on Sunday at home (SAS +12). With a .317 winning percentage, the Lakers stand to own the third-most ping pong balls in the upcoming NBA Draft lottery. Over the last five seasons, home teams that have been beaten against the spread by 36 or more total points in their last five games (LAL) are 77-125 ATS in the second half of the season. In the same timeframe, February games involving a team coming off of a SU loss as an underdog (CHA) are 43-20 Over against totals of 210 or greater. Charlotte has recently lost C Cody Zeller and C Miles Plumlee to injuries, and they are out indefinitely.
The Hornets’ struggles have come despite mostly strong performances from their lone All-Star and franchise cornerstone, PG Kemba Walker (22.7 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.2 SPG). Walker kept Charlotte in the game against the Clippers, scoring 34 points and hitting a three-pointer to send the game into OT. He also had 34 in a loss to Detroit on the 23rd, and he scored 29 points in a home loss to the 76ers. He did have some struggles early in February, failing to score 20 points in the first five games of the month. The Hornets resigned SG Nicolas Batum (15.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.1 SPG) to a big deal in the offseason to be Walker’s No. 2 and, while he continues to stuff the stat sheet, he’s not an ideal second option for a team that had hoped to make the playoffs. He’s shooting only 40.4% from the floor, the second-worst such mark of his career. He exploded on Sunday, though, hitting eight threes en route to a 31-point, eight-rebound outing against the Clippers. After a breakout 2015-16 season, PF Marvin Williams (11.0 PPG, 5.7 RPG) is scoring less, shooting at far worse percentages and rebounding less, as well. Now in his 11th year in the league, he is only in the first year of a four-year deal. Young C Frank Kaminsky (11.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG) has shown encouraging signs in recent weeks, as he is averaging 17.5 PPG in February. With Zeller (10.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.1 BPG) and the recently-acquired Plumlee (2.6 PPG, 2.0 RPG) out of the lineup, Kaminsky is taking on heavy minutes. It appears to be helping his development, but is not ideal for the team. SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (8.9 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.0 BPG) hasn’t made significant strides towards living up to his status as a former high draft pick. SGs Marco Belinelli (10.6 PG) and Jeremy Lamb (9.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG) tend to get significant minutes off the bench, and PF Christian Wood (3.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG) has been part of the rotation in the last few games.
As Magic Johnson takes control of the front office, he’ll look to continue developing a young core that provides hope for the future but, obviously, is not providing many victories at the moment. PG D’Angelo Russell (14.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.2 SPG) is probably the most highly-touted of the bunch, and he is in a better position to thrive under head coach Luke Walton than he was under Byron Scott last year. He still has a long way to go, though, as his 1.74 AST/TO ratio is 41st among 43 qualified point guards, and his 39.8% FG% is 22nd among 22 qualified point guards. Recently-traded SG Lou Williams (18.9 PPG, 3.1 APG, 1.1 SPG) led the team in scoring, and his absence will most likely mean more minutes for Russell. The thinned-out backcourt could also mean good things for PG Jordan Clarkson (13.8 PPG, 1.3 SPG), who has already seen the ball come his way more often. He had 19 points in 27 minutes against the Spurs on Sunday. At 31, SG Nick Young (13.5 PPG) is past the development stage of his career, but he’ll find plenty of reasons to get more shots up, as well. That said, he has only scored 16 total points on 6-of-27 shooting in his last three games. The frontcourt features some interesting projects, as well. Rookie SF Brandon Ingram (8.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG) needs to fill out his frame before he can regularly make a difference, but he impressed with a career-high 22 points against the Spurs. PF Julius Randle (12.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG) has reached double-digit rebounds in three straight games, and he has played fewer than 30 minutes in all of them. PF Larry Nance Jr. (6.7 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.2 SPG) only has eight total points in his last three games, but has had strong rebounding games throughout the month. C Tarik Black (5.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG) gets the start at the five, but typically only plays 15 minutes or so. Rookie Ivica Zubac (5.9 PPG, 4.0 RPG) gets a little more action off the bench on most nights.