The Charlotte Hornets hope to stop the bleeding and grab a much-needed triumph when they take on the Portland Trail Blazers.
Five straight losses.
A streak the Charlotte Hornets (20-21) hope comes to an end when they take on the Portland Trail Blazers (18-25) in the Spectrum Center Wednesday night. The Hornets need a short memory after they lost their fifth consecutive game to the Boston Celtics on Monday, marking the end of a winless five-game road trip.
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The Blazers lost hold of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and are now half a game back of the Denver Nuggets, after dropping Monday’s tilt against Washington 120-101. Portland represents a big opportunity for the Hornets offense.
The Trail Blazers are last in the NBA in points allowed (110.7) and defensive rating (112.3) setting up the Hornets for a big night scoring the rock. Kemba Walker and Company should be jumping at the opportunity to take on a team that has allowed 120 points 13 times this season.
The Steve Clifford era has been built around defense, and the Hornets first 23 games were no different. The team allowed 99.9 points per game over that span while holding opponents to 30.5 percent from downtown.
Since that fairytale defensive stretch, Charlotte has lost focus on that side of the ball. Allowing 107.6 PPG, including eight straight games allowing over 100 points.
That just isn’t the Hornets way and things don’t get any easier defensively when the Trail Blazers are in town. Portland is seventh in the league in scoring (107.9 PPG) and boasts one of the elite backcourt duos in the NBA.
C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard have solidified themselves as two of the best guards in the league and represent a potent combo for this reeling defense.
Kemba Walker/Nicolas Batum vs Damian Lillard/ C.J. McCollum
Backcourt play is going to determine tonight’s victor, and I’d be pretty confident if I were a part of the Blazers faithful. Portland boasts one of the best offensive backcourt combinations in the league. The key word there is “offensive,” sure McCollum and Lillard can score from anywhere on the floor, what they can’t do is play tight defense. Walker and Nicolas Batum must take advantage of the soft defensive play from Portland’s backcourt and hope they can survive a shootout in The Hive.