Hornets hope to end Warriors’ recent home dominance
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors will seek to continue an impressive run of home-court performances Wednesday night when they host the Eastern Conference playoff-hopeful Charlotte Hornets.
The Warriors (41-7) have responded to a Jan. 6 home loss to the Memphis Grizzlies with five consecutive wins at Oracle Arena. The most recent three of the five have been eye-catching, routs of the Cleveland Cavaliers by 35 points, the Oklahoma City Thunder by 21 and the Los Angeles Clippers by 46.
The blowout of the Clippers on Saturday night gave the Warriors six wins by at least 35 points this year, already matching the full-season NBA record set by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1972-73.
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The recent spree has coincided with additional production provided by Stephen Curry.
The two-time reigning Most Valuable Player had scored 20 or more points in 13 consecutive games before sitting out Golden State’s win at Portland on Sunday due to an illness. The 13-game stretch has included 40- and 43-point games.
Curry, who is expected back for Wednesday’s game, began the season by scoring fewer than 20 points in 10 of Golden State’s first 34 games.
“Earlier in the season, Steph was really going out of his way trying to find (newcomer Kevin Durant) and make him feel comfortable,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said recently. “I think what Steph has realized is that he could just be himself and let it fly. He doesn’t have to worry about Kevin or Klay (Thompson) or anybody else.”
Curry dazzled fans in his hometown of Charlotte with a 28-point, six-assist performance when the Warriors beat the Hornets 113-103 on the road on Jan. 28. The homecoming included being honored by both his high school (Charlotte Christian) and college (Davidson).
The game itself was anything but a party. Curry was matched nearly point for point by Hornets standout point guard Kemba Walker, who contributed 26 points and eight assists to Charlotte’s competitive effort.
The Hornets (23-26) began a tough five-day, three-game Western swing with 115-98 loss at Portland on Tuesday night. It was the Southeast Division club’s fifth straight defeat and 10th in its past 13 games.
Charlotte’s biggest struggles of late have come on the road, where it has dropped eight in succession. The Hornets haven’t won on the road in more than a month — since a Dec. 28 win at Orlando.
The Hornets likely once again will be without starting center Cody Zeller against the Warriors. He missed his fourth straight game Tuesday at Portland after sustaining a deep thigh bruise against Washington on Jan. 26.
Charlotte is 1-10 this season when Zeller has sat out. He is doubtful for the Golden State game.
“Coach talks about … how it collapses the defense even when I don’t score,” Zeller said in Portland of his offensive impact. “I think we play a little faster when I’m in the lineup.”
Walker led the Hornets in the Portland loss with 22 points, with nine of his points coming on 3-pointers. He has hit at least one shot from beyond the arc in 27 consecutive games.