Hornets Look to Cap Road Trip with Another Win in New Orleans

by Sam Perley
  • Charlotte Hornets (3-5) at New Orleans Pelicans (4-4)
  • Friday, Jan. 8, 2021 at 7:30 PM EST (Smoothie King Center)
  • ESPN and WFNZ 610 AM or 102.5 FM
  • Last time out: Pelicans won, 115-110 on Nov. 9, 2019 in Charlotte

Gordon Hayward Goes Off for Career Night in Atlanta

As the Hornets’ offense continues to work itself out early on in the season, the team got a massive boost from veteran Gordon Hayward in a 102-94 road win over Atlanta on Wednesday night. The Charlotte forward finished the evening with a career-high 44 points (14 of which came in the fourth quarter), a performance that marked the fourth-highest single-game scoring total on the road in team history and the most ever by anybody other than Kemba Walker. Efficiency remains a work in progress on the points-producing end for Charlotte, but hopefully, Hayward’s big showing can start catalyzing things in the right direction.

Ball Brothers Showdown Highlights ESPN Showcase

The biggest storyline going into tonight’s game (and perhaps the primary reason it’s being broadcasted nationally on ESPN) is that this matchup marks the first head-to-head NBA meeting between Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball and his older brother and New Orleans guard Lonzo Ball. Remarkably, they are the only siblings to ever both be top-3 NBA Draft picks and Charlotte’s Ball has looked worthy of such a selection with averages of 15.6 points on 44% shooting, 6.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.8 steals over his last five outings. Unsurprisingly, Lonzo is putting up nearly identical marks in scoring (15.5 points on 43% shooting), rebounding (5.5) and assists (5.8) over his last four games, setting the stage for what will surely be a memorable experience for the two brothers.

Pelicans Will Pack the Paint, So Take Advantage on the Perimeter

New Orleans enters this game ranked fifth in the NBA in defensive rating (104.9) and first in rebounding percentage (55.2%), while also allowing the most opposing three-point attempts per game (44.1 on 36% shooting) of any team in the league by a wide margin. Often times, it seems like the Pelicans elect to control the paint by dropping big bodies like Steven Adams, Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes back towards the rim. The Hornets have struggled to finish around the basket this season and knowing there will be more looks from long distance, they need to make sure they’re converting with a bit more space to operate around the perimeter.

Preview Quote

“Going into tomorrow, I’m just taking it like another game. I’m just trying to get the win. It’s definitely great. It’s all love. That’s my brother. We grew up together. When we were younger, we always talked about [playing in the NBA] and we always knew we were going to the league. Now the time has finally come. We’re both excited.” – LaMelo Ball

Final Thoughts

Wednesday’s much-needed win snapped the Hornets’ three-game losing streak and they’ll now look to split their four-game road trip with another victory on the first half of a back-to-back set tonight. A win in the Big Easy certainly won’t be easy against one of the league’s best defensive squads, but another strong start like Charlotte had in Atlanta plus more timely shot-making should put the team on the right path to victory.

Additional Notes

The Pelicans have won six of the seven head-to-head meetings with the Hornets since the start of the 2016-17 season (only loss: 115-109 at home on April 3, 2019)… Charlotte is just 3-12 all time on the road against New Orleans… Former Hornets center Willy Hernangómez (2018-20) now plays for the Pelicans… New Orleans’ last three games have been decided by an average of just 2.3 points (1-2).

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