Hornets vs. Lakers Odds
|Time||10:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Hornets’ high-flying offense led by LaMelo Ball and the wildly improved Miles Bridges helped Charlotte start the season 5-2, but the Hornets have lost four games in a row since then, including all three games of the current West Coast road trip after falling 120-106 to the Clippers on Sunday night.
The Lakers lost their first two games of the season then won five of their next six games against lesser opponents to get to 5-3 through eight games. However, the Lakers blew a 19-point lead on Thursday at home against the Thunder then were blown out at the Trail Blazers on Saturday night. To make matters worse, LeBron James missed Saturday’s game with an abdomen injury and will likely be out multiple weeks.
The Lakers are 2.5-point favorites as of Monday morning, and this line is expected to move throughout the day. Anthony Davis injured a finger in Thursday’s loss to the Thunder and then left early on Saturday due to a stomach illness. He is listed as questionable for Monday due to the finger injury, and the line will likely move in either direction depending on if he plays or not.
With that in mind, let’s break down this matchup below.
Can Charlotte Defend Consistently?
If the Hornets cover or pull the upset on Monday, it will be because their defense improves and they don’t give up a devastating run like they have done too often this season. P.J. Washington (elbow) remains out and is the only Hornet on the injury report.
So far this season, the Hornets have been great offensively and terrible defensively. They rank sixth in the league with an Offensive Rating of 111.8 (excluding garbage time, per Cleaning The Glass), but they have also ranked 29th in Defensive Rating (114.1) out of 30 teams.
The Hornets’ defense came back to bite them again last night as they held a nine-point lead with fewer than seven minutes remaining against the Clippers, but they surrendered a 22-0 run and lost the game while also failing to cover as six-point underdogs.
If the Hornets can put together a 48-minute effort defensively and not give up a huge run like they have in several of their recent losses, it will be a huge boost. The Hornets have the lowest Turnover Rate in the NBA (12.5%), and continuing to take care of the ball will be important to limit the Lakers’ transition opportunities, especially when Westbrook is on the court.
If they can play competitive defense, the Hornets have the better offensive talent in this game – whether Davis plays or not. LaMelo Ball has cut down on his turnovers so far in his second season while also improving his 3-point accuracy to 41%. Miles Bridges is the current co-favorite with Ja Morant (at +350) for Most Improved Player as he has made the leap from a high-flying finisher at the rim to a legitimate scorer.
Gordon Hayward has been on fire from beyond the arc (49%) and leads high-usage Hornets players with 121.7 points per 100 shots. Terry Rozier has played just six games and has been inefficient as he finds his footing, but he should figure it out sooner than later.
Lakers Struggling In All Areas
If the Lakers win and cover against the Hornets, it will be because Russell Westbrook plays well while they improve their shooting. In addition to James (out) and Davis (questionable), Talen Horton-Tucker (thumb), Trevor Ariza (ankle), and Kendrick Nunn (ankle) all remain out.
With James out and several of their best scoring options off the bench (THT and Nunn) also out, the Lakers need Westbrook to step up if they expect to beat the Hornets. He will need to play better than he has to start off his Lakers career as he is shooting below average percentages at the rim (54% – 34th percentile), in the midrange (39% – 37th percentile), and beyond the arc (27% – ninth percentile). He also has a career-high 17.5% turnover rank (26th percentile among point guards).
Westbrook needs to take smarter shots by playing downhill as much as possible. He is a better shooter when his momentum leads him toward the basket, and this also keeps defenders on their heels as he is still explosive enough as a driving threat. Westbrook’s 95.4 points per 100 shots rank in the 23rd percentile among point guards and ranks last among all qualified Lakers.
While Westbrook has been inefficient, so has Davis — he is second-worst on the team in points per 100 shots among qualified players at 110.1 (a career low). Davis has settled for too many long midrange shots this season and remains a reluctant (and poor) 3-point shooter.
The lone bright spot for the Lakers offensively has been Carmelo Anthony. Anthony has been an energy booster off the bench as his microwavable scoring has kept the Lakers’ offense afloat. He ranks in the 86th percentile among forwards as he is scoring 126.9 points per 100 shots, and his 50% accuracy from beyond the arc has been impressive.
The Lakers will need wings like Kent Bazemore, Austin Reeves, and Malik Monk to step up and make shots alongside Anthony for them to win on Monday.
The Lakers’ offense hasn’t been spectacular as they rank 21st in Offensive Rating (105.1). The Lakers finished 23rd in Offensive Rating last season, so there hasn’t been a huge drop off there yet. However, there has been a significant decline defensively. After ranking among the league’s three most-efficient defenses each of the last two seasons, the Lakers rank 15th in Defensive Rating (107.9) this season.
The Lakers offloaded a handful of decent defenders in the Westbrook trade, including Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma, while also allowing Alex Caruso to walk in free agency. These decisions clearly haven’t paid off yet, and the Lakers have an uphill battle against the Hornets’ explosive offense today, especially if Davis is out.
The Lakers rank 28th in Spread Differential as they have failed to cover by an average of 6.1 points per game, and I expect more of the same on Monday night. The Lakers’ offense isn’t efficient without it running through James, and Westbrook, with his poor shooting and decision making, is a poor substitute for the Lakers as their main distributor.
While both teams are struggling, the Lakers have played the fourth-easiest strength of schedule, but the Hornets have played the second-toughest strength of schedule to date. Expect this to reveal itself on Monday as the Lakers continue to unravel following the devastating loss to the Thunder on Thursday and blowout loss to the Trail Blazers on Saturday.
If Davis plays, the Lakers should become heavier favorites, and I would wait until the Hornets get to +3 or better to take them on the spread (or +130 or better on the moneyline).
If Davis is out, take the Hornets on the moneyline at -110 or better (or if this is unavailable, get them on the spread at -2 or better). Otherwise, wait to get them live at these prices or better – their defense has been inconsistent, and there will be opportunities to get better value live if needed.
Pick: Hornets +1.5