Portland Trail Blazers (11-18) vs. Charlotte Hornets (16-14)
The Portland Trail Blazers’ losing streak continued on Wednesday with a 113-103 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Although the Blazers took a two point lead into the fourth quarter, Memphis pulled away in the final frame to hand Portland their seventh loss in a row and their tenth loss in their last 11 games.
Meanwhile, the Charlotte Hornets aren’t a great team at the moment, but they are keeping themselves relevant in the East with an above average record and young talent. One young talent will be unavailable to face the Blazers, as last season’s rookie of the year LaMelo Ball is currently in the G League for conditioning after missing time in the NBA’s health and safety Protocols. Last time out, Charlotte took it to the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, winning by a score of 131-115 on 41 points from Gordon Hayward.
Friday, December 17 - 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: ROOT Sports, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: CJ McCollum (out), Cody Zeller (out), Dennis Smith Jr (out), Greg Brown (day to day)
Hornets injuries: Ish Smith (out)
SBN Affiliate: At The Hive
Dennis Smith Jr has been ruled out with right knee inflamation.
LaMelo Ball has been upgraded and will play for the Hornets.
What To Watch For
- Points. Lots of points. Who defends worse than the Blazers? Why, the Charlotte Hornets! The Blazers are 27th in the NBA with a defensive rating of 112.4, but the Hornets are dead last at 114.0. Woof. We are in store for a contrast of styles in how the teams give up points though. Charlotte is 29th in the league at not giving up second change points, while the Portland is actually 5th best. The problem for the Blazers is that opponents don’t have much need for second chance points since they score so often at the first opportunity.
- Can the Blazers keep up? The Hornets are tied for first in the NBA in points at 115.6 per game, tied for first in field goals made at 42.9 per game, are first in field goals attempted at 92.3 per game, fourth in three pointers made at 14.3 per game, and first in three point percentage at 38.7%. The Blazers are no higher than seventh in any of those categories. Charlotte will give Portland an opportunity to raise their ranking in some or all of those categories, and the Blazers will need to if they want to win.
- Find a way to win. If you are looking for a silver lining, the Blazers have been competitive in three straight games, two of them against opponents in the top 4 in the Western Conference. Unfortunately, all three games slipped out of Portland’s grasp. Being competitive is better than the alternative — at least until you are ready to give up on the season — but the number of home games left are rapidly decreasing as the losses continue to pile up. The Blazers need to stop the bleeding and they need to do it now.
What Others Are Saying
Jack Simone of At The Hive is enthusiastic about rookie James Bouknight.
Obviously, his role will be greatly decreased once Charlotte returns to full strength, but he showed the world just how much potential he has last night. Watch out, because if he continues to play like this, the Hornets just got a whole lot more dangerous.
Gordon Hayward was fantastic Thursday, lighting up the scoreboard with apparent ease. Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer looks at why such performances don’t happen more often.
Everyone understands how much the Hornets can use that version of Hayward on a nightly basis, but the question is why can’t it happen more frequently, especially when the Hornets could use it most. Part of it is attributable to the laundry list of injuries he’s fought through over the last few seasons. He simply isn’t as athletic as he used to be. His long-distance jumper betrays him at times and isn’t always on. Those are all factors. Really, though, it’s also because he’s a victim of his own generosity on the basketball court. He’s far from a ball hog.
What’s holding the back the Hornets? Brennan Morse of Sir Charles in Charge has the answer.
The Hornets are currently third in the league in pace and 28 games into their season they are also second in offensive rating. LaMelo Ball has proven he is the real deal as the quarterback of the Hornets offense and will be a force to reckon with for years to come.
With all that said, why are the Hornets still not in the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference? What makes them different from top-tier teams in their conference. Well, a wise man once said that defense wins championships, and that sentence alone gives all you need to know about the shortcomings. of the Buzz City boys.