The Charlotte Hornets look to forget about a poor performance last night in Denver and respond positively at the Staples Center. The Los Angeles Lakers play host to the Hornets on Thursday night looking for another blowout after routing the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday, 137-121. They’re hot entering tonight on a three-game winning streak. Conversely, the Hornets were having all kinds of problems slowing down the Nuggets in their most recent showing.
The Nuggets ran the score up on the Hornets for a 129-104 final. Michael Porter Jr. had a big night for the home team. He had 28 points and collected 13 rebounds to pace the Nuggets last night. It was a good win for the Nuggets, as they continue to heat up following a slow start to the 2020-21 campaign.
The Hornets took it on the chin in that game, but were playing great basketball going into Colorado. They were on a four-game winning streak before that came to an abrupt ending versus the Nuggets. If you want to look at one aspect of last night that killed the Hornets, it had to be the off night by Gordon Hayward.
When Hayward isn’t functioning on the court properly, the Hornets are far from a complete team. They need an active and aggressive Hayward to win and pull off upsets. That includes tonight against the Lakers. If the Hornets are going to win straight up, it’s going to require a much better performance from him. Hayward finished the evening with 7 points through 26 minutes.
Despite the poor showing for the Hornets on Wednesday night, they’re going in the right direction and should have a bright future. They’ve taken steps in the right direction over the past couple of years, and the arrival of LaMelo Ball has only helped put the Hornets on a terrific path. The 19-year-old rookie has netted 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game.
There is talent on the Hornets, like Terry Rozer, who may not be part of the future plans in Charlotte, but Ball provides a tremendous piece to build around. At 27 years old, Rozier makes for a big trade chip going into the deadline. The Hornets are in a good position to reach the playoffs at 20-19 in the East, but they’re thinking bigger in the future. Head below for our free Hornets vs. Lakers pick on March 18, 2021.
Charlotte Hornets vs. Los Angeles Lakers NBA Betting Odds:
Hornets vs. Lakers Prediction:
When the Hornets are feeling confident, they can give any team in the NBA some problems. The Phoenix Suns found out on February 24, as the Hornets defeated the Suns on the road by a score of 124-121. Since then, the Hornets have gone 6-3, so have been playing fairly solid basketball for nearly a month now.
The key for the Hornets is to put the loss last night far out of their memory bank. I find it a positive that they’re going straight back out on the court instead of sitting around and dwelling on the loss. This isn’t an easy assignment on Thursday night at the Staples Center, but the Hornets could pull it off if they catch the Lakers napping.
The Hornets are 16th in the league with 112.6 points scored per game. We’ve seen the Hornets come on harder over the last month following a slow stretch in January. Note that the Hornets have scored at least 120 points in five of their previous nine outings, which in large part happens when LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward are feeling hot.
Hayward was off the mark last night, as we noted above. After playing little role as a scorer last night, I foresee Hayward to bounce back with a much bigger offensive performance against the Lakers. The Lakers’ defense is going to be a tough ask for the Hornets, though. They’ve conceded 106.3 points per game for second in the NBA. In their previous five, the Lakers regressed with 111 points against per game.
While the Lakers did blow out the Timberwolves, this is still a banged up Lakers team without Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol, Jared Dudley, and perhaps no Alex Caruso again. Caruso is questionable with a concussion, while Dudley and Gasol are officially ruled OUT. The Hornets and Lakers haven’t met since 2019, so recent matchup trends are not important here.
Look for a lot more effort and energy from the Hornets after no shows in Denver. They’re better than the team we saw on display in that one, especially Hayward’s input offensively. Backing the Hornets to win straight up here is asking a lot, but 8 points looks like a bit too much. I would take the points in a game where the effort from the Hornets may catch the Lakers by surprise.