Los Angeles Lakers vs Charlotte Hornets Preview

Harry How/Getty Images/AFP

Los Angeles Lakers vs Charlotte Hornets Preview

NBA

Los Angeles Lakers vs Charlotte Hornets Preview

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Harry How/Getty Images/AFP

The Los Angeles Lakers will be taking on the Charlotte Hornets tonight at the Spectrum Center in North Carolina, with tip-off scheduled for 7:30pm EST. The Lakers are coming off a tough game against Philadelphia last night in which the team only scored 87 points as their leading man, LeBron James, missed the game with knee soreness. The Hornets on the other hand are coming off a win against the Indiana Pacers where they put up 158 points in a rout. This included them scoring 87 points in the second half of the game, the largest total in a second half of any NBA game in 31 years. Both teams can score the ball but if James is forced to miss another game, the Lakers will likely struggle again. Additionally, Anthony Davis may be limited coming off an injury due to this being the second leg of a back-to-back for the Lakers.

These two teams met each other earlier in the year in Los Angeles, with the Lakers taking the game by a score of 126-123 in overtime. Charlotte currently is the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference with a record of 27-22 while Los Angeles now finds themselves as the ninth seed with a record of 24-25. The Hornets are 13-7 at home this season and have won seven of their past ten games while the Lakers have a road record of 9-13 and have lost six of their past ten. On paper, this looks to be an intriguing contest but if the Lakers stars can’t go, this game could be over by halftime.

How Los Angeles can win: Much like last season, this Lakers squad just can’t seem to stay healthy and create any winning momentum for themselves. It seems as if someone is always missing from the lineup so the true potential of this team can never be unlocked. However, they still need to go out there and play the games and find ways to win. If James can’t go tonight, it will be difficult, but the team still has Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook. In his second game back from injury, Davis looked like himself scoring 31 points and grabbing 12 rebounds against the 76ers. However, the rest of the supporting cast didn’t do much and the Lakers lost the game to Philadelphia. For them to win this game, they’ll need players like Malik Monk and Carmelo Anthony to step up and take on some of the offensive load especially if James misses his second straight game.

For this Lakers team, it all starts with defense especially against this high-powered Hornets offensive attack. They’ll need to really make an effort on that side of the ball to limit the chances Charlotte gets and if they do, it could turn defense into offense. While their offense hasn’t been an issue this season, without James, the team looked stagnant last night. If they can run more flare screens for their shooters or even pick-and-roll screen coverages, it could help set up a stronger offense. They need to do something other than just standing around watching whoever has the ball in their hands. The hope is that James only sat out due to precautionary measures but if he can’t go, this team could be in more trouble.

How Charlotte can win: Charlotte comes in leading the league in points per game at 114.9 and are sitting in third place for offensive rating at 112.7. Their offense has been explosive thus far this season and will look to continue against a Lakers team who has been poor on the defensive side of the ball. The Hornets are shooting 46.4 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from the three-point line as a team. They will be without forward Gordon Hayward in this game and possibly Kelly Oubre Jr. who is listed as questionable with an ankle injury. The team hopes Oubre can make the home outing as he went off for 39 points in their win against Indiana the other night.

A key player in this game will be forward Miles Bridges who has averaged 20.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game this season, both career highs. If James can’t go, it may open up some driving lanes on offense for Bridges who has been a good finisher at the rim. His scoring uptake has opened opportunities for other players around him as well and he and guard LaMelo Ball have formed a nice duo for Charlotte. Ball is averaging 19.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game this season showing why he was the third overall pick in last seasons NBA draft. Ball will likely be paired up against Westbrook and should look to take advantage of his poor perimeter defense by attacked the middle of the painted area.

The Spread Via FanDuel:

Moneyline: LAL: (+240) | CHA: (-295)

Spread: LAL: +7 (-110) | CHA: -7 (-110)

Final Prediction: Charlotte Hornets 115 Los Angeles Lakers 96

-With LeBron James questionable for this game and Anthony Davis possibly being limited, the Lakers chances of winning drops significantly. They have struggled even when they are at full strength this season, so without their stars, this could get ugly. The Hornets are a good team who can score the ball at will, so I see the home team tying up the season series and getting the win in this matchup.

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