Six reasons to tune to NBA TV for tonight's two-game slate
POSTED: Mar 21, 2016 12:22 PM ET
Kemba Walker and the surging Hornets look to slow the Spurs in Charlotte on NBA TV tonight.
Inside Access: Warriors - Spurs
In a highly anticipated meeting of the two top teams in the NBA, the Spurs evened the series out at one game apiece with the Warriors.
The Spurs storm into Charlotte fresh off their biggest win of the season over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. The Spurs' league-leading defense held the defending champs to a season-low 79 points on 37.8 percent shooting and the reigning Kia MVP, Stephen Curry, to just 14 points on a season-low 1-for-12 from 3-point land. It was a dominating performance that silenced any doubters who believed San Antonio was overmatched by Golden State after their 30-point loss in mid-January. The Spurs face another challenge tonight against the Charlotte Hornets, who are one of the hottest teams in the league since February. Speaking of the Hornets' hot stretch ...
The Spurs (20-2) and the Warriors (19-3) are the only teams to have a better record than the Hornets (17-5) since January 31. Charlotte has the third best defensive rating and the ninth best offensive rating during this span. Since the beginning of March, the Hornets have the third best offensive rating. They're led by Kemba Walker, who has been unbelievable over this stretch with averages of 25.2 points on 47.6 percent shooting, 6.4 assists and 5.5 rebounds in 36.6 minutes since March 1. The best way for the Spurs to defend the Hornets' attack is to control the 3-point line. Charlotte ranks third in 3-pointers made, fifth in 3-pointers attempted and sixth in 3-point percentage since January 31.
The Spurs enter with a comfortable, 11.5-game lead over the Thunder for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and trail the Warriors by just 3.0 games for the No. 1 seed. They still have two more matchups against Golden State over the final 13 games of the season, so there's still a chance for them to claim the top spot and home court advantage throughout the playoffs. Charlotte finds itself in a much tighter race as it sits in the No. 6 seed out East. The Hornets trail the Hawks by 1.5 games for the No. 3 seed and lead the No. 9 seed Pistons by just 3.5 games. A win tonight would go a long way for Charlotte as it looks to land in one of the top four seeds to secure home court advantage in the first round.
The Grizzlies have been ravished by injuries over the past few weeks, playing for significant stretches without Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Zach Randolph. Memphis started strong without Gasol, going 9-4 over their first 13 games without the All-NBA center. But the losses of Conley and Randolph proved too much to handle as they suffered a four-game losing streak last week. Fortunately for Memphis, Randolph returned on Saturday against the Clippers and tallied the first triple-double of his career to lead Memphis to victory. The Grizzlies are currently the No. 5 seed in the West and lead the No. 9 seed Jazz by 6.0 games. But this buffer could dissolve quickly as the Grizzlies matchup with the Warriors twice, Spurs twice, Raptors, Mavericks and Clippers over their final 12 games. This tough remaining schedule increases the importance of a win against the struggling Suns tonight.
Randolph's 1st Triple-Double
Zach Randolph recorded his first career triple-double with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against the Clippers.
Phoenix is officially eliminated from playoff contention after a brutal season full of injuries and distractions. Despite their rough play, the Suns have been better of late with a record of 4-4 over their last eight games (including a 109-100 victory over the Grizzlies two weeks ago). Nineteen-year-old rookie Devin Booker has been one of the few bright spots for Phoenix this season as he averages 21.7 points, 5.3 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 38.0 minutes during the month of March. Booker, alongside point guard Brandon Knight, will look to outpace the battered Grizzlies and continue their solid stretch to close out the season.
Lance Stephenson has been a necessary boost of offense for the Grizzlies since he was acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers in mid-February. In 15 games with the Grizzlies, Stephenson is averaging 15.0 points on 49.2 percent shooting, 5.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and only 1.6 turnovers in 26.8 minutes. He has two games with more than 20 points during this span, including a 33-point explosion against the Pelicans on March 11. Keep an eye on Stephenson tonight as look to spark the Grizzlies to a key road win in Phoenix.
NBA.com staff reports