Charlotte Hornets (23-25) at Portland Trail Blazers (21-28)
Jan. 31, 2017, 7:00 PST
Watch: CSN NW; Listen: Rip City Radio 620 AM
Blazers injuries: Ed Davis (out), Festus Ezeli (out), Tim Quarterman (questionable)
Hornets injuries: Jeremy Lamb (probably), Cody Zeller (doubtful)
SBN Affiliate: At the Hive
Less than two weeks after being blown out on the road by the Charlotte Hornets, the Portland Trail Blazers will have an opportunity to exact a little revenge on their home court.
In their last matchup, Portland was coming off two of their worst losses of the season, where they fell behind the Orlando Magic 18-1 and the Washington Wizards 10-0 early, displaying little energy or aggression. They came out of the gate decently enough against Charlotte, but rolled over in the second half to lose by 22 points.
After this game, coach Terry Stotts made the call to insert forwards Evan Turner and Noah Vonleh in the starting lineup, swapping out Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless. Since then, the team is 3-2, and has continued to make improvements on both sides of the ball. This will be key against a Charlotte team that was able to key in on Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum defensively while getting big contributions from supporting unit players like Roy Hibbert, Frank Kaminsky, and Marco Belinelli.
Of course, everything Charlotte does starts with All-Star reserve point guard Kemba Walker. He’s having a career year, shooting 40 percent from the 3-point line en route to 23 points per game. His partner in the backcourt, Nic Batum, is putting up solid numbers despite being in a bit of a shooting slump this season, averaging 15 points, seven rebounds, and six assists despite only shooting 40 percent from the floor.
After suffering through multiple shoulder injuries, small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is finally healthy and is playing the energetic defense that he was known for coming out of college, averaging a steal and a block per game to go along with nine points and seven rebounds. At the other forward position, the Hornets feature stretch-four Marvin Williams, who shoots 37 percent from beyond the arc on five attempts per game. Williams is particularly fond of camping in the corner, so it will be critical for the Blazers to not scramble so much on defense that they lose sight of him.
Perhaps unfortunately for the Blazers, Cody Zeller is doubtful for the game with a quad injury. This is no knock on Zeller, but this likely means Roy Hibbert will again see significant action at center. Hibbert’s production has fallen off a cliff in recent years, but he looked spry against the Blazer defense two weeks ago, putting up 16 points and six rebounds, along with two blocks, in only 22 minutes.
Portland does have the advantage of bringing some momentum into this game, having won three games in a row before taking the Golden State Warriors down to the final buzzer. The lineup change seems to have sparked both the starting and bench units and, with Portland now in the midst of a five-game home stand with plenty of rest days, the team will be keen to show the Hornets that they’re not going to roll over again.
Blazer’s Edge Kids Night 2017
Help us send 2,000+ underprivileged Portland-area kids to a Trail Blazers game this spring! Read about Blazer’s Edge Kids Night 2017 for information on how to get involved, and help spread the word!