Key Matchup vs. Atlanta Hawks: Nicolas Batum vs. Kent Bazemore
A season-long homestand for the Charlotte Hornets concludes on Friday night as they attempt to win their fifth-straight game against the Atlanta Hawks at Spectrum Center.
Nicolas Batum has noticeably been getting more involved in the Hornets' offense as of late, causing his scoring and facilitating to subsequently improve. The Frenchman is averaging 13.6 points on 42.3 percent shooting, 4.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.4 steals over his last seven games while hitting at least one three-point field goal in each outing as well (longest streak of the season).
The 10th-year veteran will be paired up in the backcourt with Kent Bazemore, who is now in his fourth overall season with the Hawks. Undrafted out of Old Dominion University in 2012, Bazemore is currently averaging career-high marks in scoring (12.6 points), assists (3.6) and steals (1.79), the last of which is ranked tied for ninth in the NBA this season.
Batum has seen his offensive production increase in recent weeks, but could have a tricky matchup on his hands with Bazemore's defensive playmaking abilities. Atlanta currently ranks first in the NBA in points off turnovers (18.8) and giveaways forced (15.7) per game, meaning Batum and the rest of the Hornets will have to be mindful of making careless mistakes leading to easy transition baskets.