Hornets go for revenge vs. Cavs
The teams have split one-sided affairs, with the Hornets running up a 126-94 home win 10 days before the Cavaliers turned the tables in a 113-89 shellacking on their home floor.
Charlotte has gone 3-3 this season when attempting to avenge a loss in its previous meeting with an opponent, beating Atlanta, Chicago and Milwaukee under those circumstances.
Flipping things against an opponent that clobbered them by 24 points might be asking a lot of the Hornets, but surely that could have been said of the Cavaliers when they faced Charlotte after having been smothered by 32 in the earlier meeting.
“We’re going to get better,” Hornets coach James Borrego insisted to the gathered media after a 128-100 blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday. “That’s what we do. We respond.”
It was Cleveland that responded the last time the teams met. After allowing Charlotte to shoot 57.1 percent and accumulate 67 points off the bench in its earlier home win, the Cavaliers limited the Hornets to 34.7 percent shooting and their backups to 32 points in the rematch.
For Cleveland, it was one of four times this season in which it avenged an earlier defeat.
On the other hand, the Cavaliers haven’t beaten any opponent more than once this season, a task that will be made tougher on Wednesday night by the fact that they’ll be playing the second game of a road back-to-back.
The good news is the first night of the sequence went well for Cleveland, which got a buzzer-beating tip-in from Larry Nance Jr. in a 92-91 win at Indiana.
Nance made the most of a rare start at center, pulling a career-high 16 rebounds to complement 15 points, six assists and three steals.
David Nwaba was inserted into the starting backcourt, and while he didn’t score in 14 minutes, the defensive-minded guard helped the Cavaliers hold the potent Pacers tandem of Victor Oladipo (12 points) and Darren Collison (five) to a total of 17 points on 6-for-21 shooting.
Nwaba was returning to the starting group as Cavaliers coach Larry Drew sought to find a way to end a two-game losing streak.
“When he was in the starting lineup, we did establish some type of rhythm with our starters, and then the guys coming off the bench, they were in a rhythm as well,” Drew explained of the Nwaba promotion before Tuesday’s game. “What I saw with him in the starting lineup, I really liked.”
Defending Charlotte’s guards has been a handful for most teams. Kemba Walker has scored 20 or more points in 20 of the team’s 29 games, while Jeremy Lamb has reached double figures in 20 of his last 21 games.
Neither has been at his best in the Hornets’ current two-game losing streak, with Walker having been harassed into 8-for-33 shooting (4-for-18 on 3-pointers) while totaling 20 points in the losses to New York and the Lakers, while Lamb has shot 11-for-30 (2-for-11 on threes) and scored just 28 points.