GAME NIGHT FROM CHARLOTTE: Bulls (3-20, 1-12 on the road) at Charlotte (9-14, 8-4 at home)
TV: NBC Chicago Sports: Neil Funk, Stacey King. 6PM CT.
RADIO: WLS 890AM : Chuck Swirsky, Bill Wennington, Steve Kashul. 5:30CT pre.
LEADING SCORERS: Bulls: Holiday and Markkanen: 14ppg. Hornets: Walker: 22ppg
LEADING REBOUNDERS: Bulls: Markkanen: 7. Hornets: Howard: 12.
LEADING ASSISTS: Bulls: Grant 4. Hornets: Walker: 6.
LAST MEETING: November 17 at United Center: The Bulls posted their last win against the Hornets despite the 47 points of Kemba Walker. Holiday tossed in 27 as the Bulls shot 52% on the night.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Head Coach Steve Clifford has taken a leave of absence to address health issues; the Hornets are banged up (Kaminsky and Zeller), so the Bulls should go straight to the post and let Rolo and Markkanen do their thing near the rim, despite the presence of Dwight Howard. Kemba Walker is going to get his; I totally get it. He’s a legit All Star, but the Hornets need strong games on a regular basis from Batum and Lamb to win games. The Bulls need to learn how to close out games. Simple as that. The Bulls have squandered big leads and the growing pains of a young club is evident.
ROLO ON A ROLL: The Bulls are receiving outstanding production from veteran Robin Lopez. Lopez is averaging 16 points- five rebounds the past five games. He’s shooting 67% the past four games. I’m all about feeding him the rock.
NIKO RETURNS: Barring any last second change, Niko Mirotic will make his 2017-18 debut tonight. Last season he played in 70 games and averaged 10 points and five rebounds.
HORNETS BANGED UP: Two bigs will miss tonight’s game. Frank Kaminsky is out with an ankle injury and Cody Zeller is sidelined indefinitely with a knee issue.
NBA NEWS AND NOTES
What a ball game in Philadelphia. MUST SEE NBA action. Young stars showcased on a big stage, and a sellout as the Lakers held on for a victory over the 76ers. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are going to create havoc in the Eastern Conference for a good decade provided they are healthy. Simmons a triple double and Embiid with a 32-7-6 game. Brandon Ingram has elevated his game the past month; he drilled a three with less than a second left, as the Lakers win 107-104.
Chicagoan Jahlil Okafor got his wish, and he’s no longer a 76er. The third pick in the 2015 draft was sent with another former lottery pick, Nik Stauskas, to Brooklyn, along with a future second round pick for Trevor Booker. Okafor will get plenty of opportunities to resurrect his career that has been hampered by injuries. This is a win-win for both Philly and Okafor.
No altitude problems for the Nets as they beat the Thunder. The game was played in Mexico City. Brooklyn improved to 10-14. The Nets didn’t win their tenth game last year until March 1st. The Nets play the Heat tomorrow in Mexico City. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says he’s very interested in placing a G League team in Mexico City.
Bradley Beal with 34 as the Wizards topped Phoenix.
The Mavs’ Nerlens Noel is out 4-6 weeks. He will undergo thumb surgery. Just asking, how much money did he turn down from Mark Cuban?
Always a pleasure!