Hornets-Lakers Preview

BY foxsports • January 31, 2016

In a matchup with a young team on the rise, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's return wasn't enough to get the banged-up Charlotte Hornets back in the win column.

A meeting with the Western Conference's worst team that is in the midst of a nine-game losing streak appears more favorable.

The Hornets try to send the Los Angeles Lakers into a tie for their longest losing streak in franchise history Sunday night at Staples Center.

Kidd-Gilchrist played for the first time since his shoulder surgery in October on Friday against Portland. He registered 13 points and seven rebounds in 33-plus minutes in a 109-91 loss as the Trail Blazers won their third straight and seventh in nine games.

"Being on the floor for the first time was really fun, but it's not about me, it's about the team and finding some wins," he said. "I'm happy to be back to say the least."

While they got Kidd-Gilchrist back, the Hornets might have some missing players for the finale of their four-game Western trip. Nicolas Batum is expected to sit out because of more trouble with a sprained right toe.

Batum has missed seven games because of that injury in 2016 and sat out three straight until a 102-73 drubbing to Utah on Wednesday. He had three points on 1-of-11 shooting and eight assists in nearly 40 minutes Friday against his former team.

Cody Zeller (shoulder) and Al Jefferson (knee) are also expected to sit out. Jeremy Lin (ankle) and Jeremy Lamb (toe), who has missed the last four games, are considered questionable.

"We're just trying to come in here and do what we can to win," forward Tyler Hansbrough said. "That's our only focus. I know we have a lot of guys out and our team is hurting in ways. We're just trying to step up and do what we can to win."

Even being short-handed, the Hornets (22-25) might have enough to get past the Lakers (9-40), who have been outscored by an average of 16.6 points during their nine-game slide.

Los Angeles has experienced only one skid that's gone longer, when it dropped its final 10 games in 1993-94. The Lakers couldn't take advantage of a Los Angeles Clippers team that was missing star Blake Griffin in a 105-93 loss Friday.

"We put a lot of work in and losing isn't fun," guard Jordan Clarkson said.

While Kobe Bryant sat out with an ailing right shoulder and Achilles, Julius Randle had a career-high 23 points and 14 rebounds. Bryant is considered questionable and second-leading scorer Lou Williams (illness) is listed as probable.

Bryant scored a team-best 20 points despite missing 15 of 20 shots in a 108-98 loss in Charlotte on Dec. 28. The 18-time All-Star, who is averaging 8.1 points in his last eight games, hasn't been held below 20 in his last nine matchups with the Hornets, the franchise that drafted him 13th overall in 1996.

Kemba Walker had 38 points for Charlotte, which is 2-12 on the road since Dec. 16, with both victories coming in overtime.

Charlotte has suffered back-to-back defeats since opening its trip Monday with a double-overtime win against Sacramento.

Walker has a combined 29 points in the past two games after averaging 32.6 in his previous five. He had a career-best 52 in a double-overtime victory over Utah on Jan. 18.

The Hornets have won back-to-back games against the Lakers after losing six of seven but have dropped five of six road contests in the series.

share story