LOS ANGELES — In a matchup of struggling teams, the Charlotte Hornets face the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night at Staples Center.
The Hornets have stumbled badly during the past two months with a 6-19 record, which includes a 124-121 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. Kemba Walker scored 34 points and Nicolas Batum added 31 points and eight rebounds, but a late turnover cost the Hornets, who are 0-5 this season in overtime.
“We can’t really stay focused on it and got to move forward,” Batum said of the overtime losses. “And next time, if we get overtime, we got to win this game.”
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Charlotte (25-34) posted a 99-85 win over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday to end a five-game losing streak and 12-game slide on the road. However, that has been one of the few bright spots for the club in the new year.
A victory over the Lakers would give Charlotte coach Steve Clifford his 150th as head coach of the Hornets. Clifford, in his fourth season, would join Allan Bristow and Paul Silas as the only Hornets coaches to win as many games.
The Hornets have played without forward-center Cody Zeller (quad soreness) and center Miles Plumlee (right calf strain). Zeller has missed the last six games and Plumlee has sat out the last four. Zeller is listed as questionable by the Hornets against the Lakers along with forward Marvin Williams (shoulder strain).
In Zeller’s and Plumlee’s absences, center Frank Kaminsky has put together solid performances. Kaminsky finished with 16 points and five rebounds before fouling out with 4:21 left in regulation against the Clippers. Kaminsky is averaging 17.7 points and 6.6 rebounds in the past nine games.
“I think he was starting to play better and better before Cody and then Miles both got hurt,” Clifford said. “The think I like about it is his defense.”
The Lakers (19-41) have lost four in a row and six of their last eight. They also have dropped four straight to the Hornets. In their last meeting in Charlotte on Dec. 20, Los Angeles blew a 19-point first-half lead in a 117-113 loss.
On Sunday, in a 119-98 setback to the San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers fell behind by double digits in the first quarter and were unable to mount a rally.
Coach Luke Walton wasn’t pleased with the way the Lakers opened the game.
“We came out (Sunday) and I don’t know if it was the early start or what,” Walton said. “I love our guys and I’m supportive toward them and I think they did a good job in the second half, but that first half, that can’t happen if we’re trying to build and trying to get somewhere. That was unacceptable.”
Lakers rookie forward Brandon Ingram scored a career-high 22 points against the Spurs on 10-of-15 shooting from the field, but with the exception of point guard D’Angelo Russell (18 points), they were the only starters to score in double figures.
Nineteen Lakers turnovers (resulting in 27 points) also didn’t help.
On Monday, the Lakers waived little-used reserve guard Jose Calderon. Calderon averaged 3.3 points and 2.1 assists in 24 games.