The Charlotte Hornets have experienced the pluses and minuses of facing undermanned teams.
They probably learned a lesson while playing their past two opponents, who had severe roster limitations because of injuries. That will be the case once again when the Los Angeles Lakers visit for Tuesday night’s game in Charlotte, N.C.
The Hornets won Friday night at the Milwaukee Bucks, who were without Giannis Antetokounmpo, and then they returned home and lost Sunday to the Atlanta Hawks, who were minus Trae Young.
Now, for the third straight matchup, Charlotte will not have to face a couple of NBA stars.
LeBron James has been out since suffering a high ankle sprain March 20, and Anthony Davis has missed two months with a calf strain and sore Achilles tendon. Yet the Lakers have found ways to maintain a pretty good pace.
The Lakers are 3-3 on a stretch of seven consecutive road games that ends with this stopover in Charlotte. They’re coming off Monday night’s 111-96 loss to the New York Knicks, again playing with a reduced roster.
The Lakers aren’t rushing anyone back to the court.
“You don’t want anybody to be overextended,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.
The level of pride that the Hornets have displayed — rallying from 17 points down in the first quarter Sunday — is encouraging for coach James Borrego even in the aftermath of a disappointing outcome.
“I do see a resolve, a pride about our defense right now,” Borrego said.
The Hornets are miffed after a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter disappeared against Atlanta.
“I know what kind of guys we have,” Charlotte forward Miles Bridges said. “We’ll watch film and get it together.”
Charlotte still had a chance when guard Terry Rozier took a potential go-ahead 3-point shot in the waning seconds.
“I trust him,” Borrego said of Rozier taking key shots.
The Hornets lost forward P.J. Washington to a third-quarter ankle injury Sunday and that puts his status in jeopardy against the Lakers.
“It’s a tough loss,” Hornets guard Brad Wanamaker said.
For the Lakers, Dennis Schroder had a team-high 21 points in Monday night’s game in New York. The biggest problem for Los Angeles might have been its 24 turnovers.
The Lakers topped Charlotte 116-105 on March 18 in Los Angeles, with James posting 37 points in that game. His ankle injury will keep him out of the rematch.
Much of the discussion focused on the Lakers tends to be about their playoff prospects. Still, there are games to be played that matter in the regular season.
“We’re not looking down the road at what potential matchups could be,” Vogel said.
While the game was less than a month ago, both teams have undergone lineup adjustments. The Hornets are without rookie guard LaMelo Ball, and standout Gordon Hayward is also out with an injury.
The one factor that might work in the Lakers’ favor is the power of Andre Drummond because the Hornets often don’t display an overwhelming post presence.
The Lakers have an every-other-game pattern of wins and losses for their past eight games. Following that pattern would mean Tuesday’s game would line up to be a victory.
–Field Level Media