Cavs, Hornets look to get on track again

The Charlotte Hornets have been all over the scale when it comes to both good and discouraging performances.

Now with a four-game homestand, it could be a crucial time for the Hornets. The homestand will begin Friday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers visit Charlotte.

The Hornets have lost back-to-back games, including Wednesday night’s 113-107 decision at Boston. That came with a career-high 38 points from Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball.

Cleveland has lost two of its past three games, with a disappointing 115-104 setback Wednesday night at Houston, which has the worst record in the Western Conference.

The Cavaliers were 11-4 in January for the second-best mark among Eastern Conference teams. So February didn’t begin well.

«You don’t make up for the absence of another guy by trying to be somebody else,» Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. «We didn’t get the job done at the level we’re capable of.»

The Cavaliers are trying to make it through a stretch without a full lineup. Darius Garland is out with a back ailment and Lauri Markkanen has missed five games in a row with a sprained ankle.

Rookie Evan Mobley posted a career-best 29 points Wednesday, so that was encouraging for the Cavaliers.

«He knew we needed him to score,» Bickerstaff said.

In Cleveland’s past four victories, the opponent has failed to reach the 100-point mark.

Young talent should be well-represented in Friday’s game based on selections for the NBA All-Star Weekend’s Rising Stars game. Mobley and Isaac Okoro from the Cavaliers along with Ball are among those tagged for that distinction.

When things haven’t gone well, the Hornets haven’t valued every possession as they should, coach James Borrego said. That can come back to haunt them.

«We’ve got to correct the turnovers moving forward because we’ve got some really aggressive defenses coming (as opponents) the next few nights,» Borrego said.

The discipline aspect extends to other parts of the offense as well.

«Taking better shots (so) we’re not settling for the first shot, the first look,» Borrego said.

Discipline has been a topic with the Cavaliers as well. That stemmed from them making only 15 of 27 free-throw attempts at Houston.

«You’ve got to go in there with a disciplined approach,» Bickerstaff said.

The Hornets moved forward P.J. Washington to the starting lineup, something that was described as a form of tinkering while Charlotte waits for the return of Gordon Hayward from an injury.

«It’s something we’ll look at,» Borrego said of revising Washington’s role. «He’s obviously somebody we trust in the starting lineup.»

The Hornets are hoping for a playoff spot, so they might see a sampling of the intensity that’s involved.

«We want to win every game; that’s our approach,» guard Terry Rozier said. «It’s going to be tough games.»

The Cavaliers and Hornets haven’t met since two matchups in the opening weeks of the season. Each team won on the road. Collin Sexton, who suffered a season-ending injury in November, had 33 points in Cleveland’s 123-112 loss on Oct. 22, while Ball scored 30 in Charlotte’s 113-110 setback on Nov. 1.

Cleveland’s Cedi Osman, who is in his fifth season, needs nine points to reach 3,000 for his career.

–Field Level Media

About The Author