Hornets Closing All-West Back-to-Back in Dallas
By Sam Perley
The Hornets will look to put a brutal home loss to the Clippers in the rearview mirror as they head to Dallas to face the Mavericks for the tail end of a back-to-back beginning tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Dallas dealt Charlotte one of its worst home losses in franchise history, a 122-84 blowout back on Jan. 2. The Mavericks knocked down a blistering 10 threes in route to a 42-point first quarter and just their third road win of the season at the time. No Hornet exceeded 11 points in the contest and as a team, Charlotte shot just 35.6 percent and 18.8 percent from the field and three-point range, respectively.
Baskets have continued to fall lately for the veteran Nic Batum over his last nine appearances, as he continues to make contributions everywhere for the Hornets. Over the course of this stretch, the Frenchman is averaging 12.1 PPG on a razor-sharp 51.4 percent shooting (2.0 3PM on 43.9 percent shooting), 5.4 RPG, 2.8 APG and 1.0 BPG across 33.7 MPG.
Batum will likely be matched up in spurts with 19-year-old budding superstar, Luka Dončić, who tallied 18 points, 10 rebounds and four assists against the Hornets on Jan. 2. Dončić is the heavy favorite for Rookie of the Year honors as he’s on pace to become just the second first-year player to average at least 20.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 5.0 APG and 1.0 SPG (Michael Jordan, 1984-85).
Charlotte has been playing well lately, but squandering a 20-point, second-half lead in last night’s loss to the Clippers is going to test the team both physically and mentally in this one. The Hornets need to put the blinders on and focus on Dončić and the new-look, upstart Mavericks, while hopefully, getting back on track with a much-needed victory.
Game Note – Dallas is 18-7 at home this season, but just 6-21 on the road… Dennis Smith Jr. (18), Wes Matthews (11) and DeAndre Jordan (8) combined for 37 points against the Hornets on Jan 2, although they were all traded to the Knicks last Thursday as part of a deal that sent Kristaps Porzingis, Courtney Lee, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke back to Dallas.
Classic Fact – Charlotte’s Johnny Newman hit a single-game franchise-record 18 free throws against the Dallas Mavericks on Jan. 19, 1991. Larry Johnson then matched this mark against the Golden State Warriors on Dec. 2, 1992, although it hasn’t been touched since.