Key Matchup vs. Phoenix Suns: Kemba Walker vs. Elfrid Payton
The Hornets wrap up their season series with the Phoenix Suns on Saturday evening looking to snap a five-game losing streak in their final home appearance before beginning a 10-day road trip.
Although in a relatively mild slump his last two outings, it's been another remarkable season overall for two-time All-Star Kemba Walker. The franchise's soon-to-be all-time leading scorer currently leads the Eastern Conference in three-pointers (189; 5th overall in the league) and ranks sixth in scoring (22.9 points) and fifth in free throws (4.7) amongst all NBA point guards.
Walker will be countered in the backcourt with fourth-year pro, Elfrid Payton, who has put up some impressive numbers since being acquired by the Suns at the trade deadline last month. The Louisiana-Lafayette alum is one of just four players in the league averaging at least 14.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.0 steal since Feb. 10 (James, Westbrook, Simmons).
While Payton has been stuffing the box score in Phoenix, it hasn't translated to the win column as the Suns are just 1-10 since bringing him on board. Still, his shooting efficiency from the field (50.2 percent) and long distance (34.9 percent) are both career highs and warrant him being a major priority for Walker and the Hornets wings on the defensive end.