Key Matchup vs. Orlando Magic: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs. Evan Fournier
A crucial four-game homestand commences for the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night as they’ll look to tally a ninth-consecutive victory over the division-rival Orlando Magic.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has continued to produce steadily in his sixth NBA season with the Hornets, posting averages of 10.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists over his last five outings. The Kentucky product is also putting up career-high marks in field-goal percentage (48.7 percent) and net rating (6.7) this year, the latter of which is ranked second overall on the team.
After recently losing Terrence Ross indefinitely (knee/leg), the Magic will be relying on its second-leading scorer, Evan Fournier, more than ever now. The Frenchman has cooled off after a strong start to the season (20.5 points on 51.2 percent shooting, 3.6 assists and 1.5 steals in his first 11 games), putting up 15.8 points on 42.8 percent shooting and 2.8 assists in his 13 most recent appearances.
Orlando will likely keep using Jonathon Simmons as Ross’ replacement in the starting lineup (14.2 PPG), which should open up the NBA’s 16th-ranked offense some more. Fournier can create his own shot and score proficiently off screens, two things Kidd-Gilchrist will have to be especially wary of when these teams meet for the second time this season.