Pelicans, Hornets get together again
The teams have met eight times since the franchise formerly known as the Charlotte Bobcats switched back to the Hornets, following New Orleans’ decision to change from Hornets to Pelicans.
New Orleans has won six of the eight meetings, including the last four, but none has been decided by more than nine points.
In fact, a total of just nine points separated the teams in the Pelicans’ two-game, season-series sweep last year, after the clubs had battled to two overtime games — both won by New Orleans — the year before.
The Pelicans’ Anthony Davis and the Hornets’ Kemba Walker were the big guns in the tight duels last season, with Davis averaging 25.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in the wins, and Walker went for 22 and 20 points in 101-96 and 119-115 losses, respectively.
While they have yet to go head-to-head, both Davis and Walker have started this season leading their respective clubs.
Davis ranks fourth in the NBA in scoring at 27.8 points per game, an average he bumped up a few tenths with a 41-point effort in Friday’s 106-101 loss at Miami.
The Pelicans were unable to build upon the momentum gathered in a 125-104 home win over Washington on Wednesday, a game in which Tim Frazier was inserted into the starting lineup at point guard in an effort to speed up the club.
“We’re an athletic team,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry explained. “(The pace against the Wizards was) the way we kind of started the season playing. Then all of a sudden we became a jogging team.”
Frazier contributed 12 points and 12 assists to the win over Washington but couldnt duplicate his magic at Miami, going for just six points and nine assists.
The Pelicans also were hampered in Miami by a what appeared to be a serious calf injury sustained by E’Twaun Moore.
X-rays taken after the game were negative, but he almost surely will sit out the finale of New Orleans’ three-day, two-game trip.
Frazier will be matched up Sunday with Walker, the league’s seventh-leading scorer at 27.1 points per game.
Walker has slowed down some after a torrid start in which he poured in 26 or more points in 10 of the Hornets’ first 17 games. He hasn’t topped 25 since, and has been harassed into 35.2 percent shooting in his last four games, during which he has been held to 20.8 points a night.
“Kemba’s going to draw so much attention — we know that, we know he can make big plays — but we can’t expect him to do that every night,” Hornets veteran Cody Zeller noted to reporters last week. “The rest of us have to contribute as well.”
Charlotte shot just 9 of 28 on 3-pointers (32.1 percent) in the loss to Utah.