Key Matchup vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Johnny O’Bryant vs. Julius Randle

by Quinton Wash

The Charlotte Hornets will look to close out their four-game road trip in California with a third victory in four outings as they’ll square off against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

With Cody Zeller sidelined following left knee surgery, Johnny O’Bryant has been filling in as the Hornets backup center over the past few weeks. The fourth-year pro is coming off a career-high 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting in the team’s 131-111 win in Sacramento on Tuesday night, which was also the first time ever he’s scored in double figures in consecutive games as well.

O’Bryant will be tasked with guarding fellow 2014 draftee, Julius Randle, who has moved into a second-string role this season following the Lakers’ summer acquisition of Brook Lopez. Randle’s averages of 13.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists are down this year because of the reduced playing time, but he is still currently ranked eighth overall in the league in field-goal percentage (career-high 55.8 percent).

Randle is a bit of a bruiser who utilizes his size and physicality in the paint against opposing post players. Look for O’Bryant to spread things out offensively with his perimeter shooting abilities when the two sides collide for the final time this season at Staples Center.