Hornets Return from All-Star Break to Face Chicago Bulls

by Sam Perley

The post-All-Star Break schedule gets going tonight for the Charlotte Hornets when they square off against the hometown Chicago Bulls beginning at 8 PM EST at the United Center.

Charlotte posted back-to-back road wins going into the break, most recently rallying from 18 down to beat Minnesota, 115-108, last Wednesday evening. Having dropped the previous five outings before this two-game stretch, the pair of victories gave the Hornets a bit of momentum heading into the seven-day layoff and now, they’re hungry for more.

“It’s great. We feel refreshed, ready to go,” said Coach Borrego after Tuesday night’s practice. “There’s still a lot of basketball to be played. There are 28 games left. Our group’s excited about it. We finished on a high note there to close out the first half [of the schedule]. We had a great spirited practice today. Guys came back energized. It was great to see the young guys back in the mix and everybody’s accounted for.”

Charlotte holds a 2-1 season series record against the Bulls, winning the most recent meeting, 83-73 at the United Center on Dec. 13. Devonte’ Graham led six Hornet players in double figures with 16 points and Cody Zeller double-doubled off the bench, helping the team set an NBA season-low mark for points allowed to an opponent. Zach LaVine and Ryan Arcidiacono both had a team-high 12 points for the Bulls, who shot just 30.0% from the field as a team.

Chicago has dropped six straight outings, ranking 26th in the NBA in offensive (108.1) and last in defensive rating (120.9) during this stretch. LaVine – who scored a career-high 49 points in Charlotte on Nov. 23 – is averaging 25.8 PPG on 49.5% shooting and 6.5 APG during this skid with teammate Thaddeus Young putting up 13.7 PPG (36.4% from three) and 5.3 RPG.

The Bulls are dealing with a number of significant injuries right now and have been all over the place this season in terms of consistency on both sides of the floor. Chicago does lead the league in points off turnovers (21.0 PPG), so look for ball security and decision-making on the Hornets’ end to play a major role in the outcome of this evening’s season series finale.

Game Notes: G Kris Dunn (right knee sprain) is out for Chicago. F Lauri Markkanen (right pelvis stress reaction) has not played since Jan. 22, F Otto Porter Jr. (left foot fracture) has been out since Nov. 6 and C Wendell Carter Jr. (right ankle sprain) has been sidelined since Jan. 6… The Hornets have won four of their last five meetings with Chicago.

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