The daily preview muscles into the paint with NBA tips for a clash between LeBron’s LA Lakers and a Charlotte Hornets line-up headlined by LaMelo Ball.
13:30 (AEDT), Fri 19th Mar @ Staples Center, Los Angeles
History: Played 59: Lakers 36 V Hornets 23
Last meeting: October 27, 2019: Lakers 120 d Hornets 101 at Staples Center
Final Thoughts: The depleted LA Lakers have turned a corner since the NBA All-Star break. The champs will chase a fourth straight win against a Charlotte Hornets side that has rocketed into Eastern Conference top-six contention.
The Lakers lost seven of their last 10 games going into the break with Anthony Davis on the injured list. But the rest appears to have revitalised the championship favourites.
After subduing the Pacers (105-100), they towelled up the Warriors (128-97) and Timberwolves (137-121) on a back-to-back. LeBron James chalked up consecutive triple-doubles in the latter two wins, but the likes of Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell have also stepped up significantly to help the Lakers’ marquee man.
The 20-19 Hornets – now fifth in the East – bridged the All-Star break with a four-game winning streak. But that was brought to an end via a 129-104 loss to the Nuggets yesterday.
Rookie sensation LaMelo Ball is averaging 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game. Returning to his hometown and taking on King James for the first time shapes as a massive occasion for the 19-year-old.
Terry Rozier (20.5PPG) has also been in strong form for Charlotte, who do have the scalps of Phoenix, Golden State and Milwaukee to their name this season.
Both teams are mid-table in the NBA when it comes to offence, but the Lakers boast a big defensive advantage. The champs are conceding the second-least points per game in the league; the Hornets are ranked 21st in that category.
The Lakers are 13-8 at home this season (9-12 ATS). The Hornets are 8-11 on the road (10-9 ATS).
Charlotte have a solid 3-3 record on the second leg of a back-to-back, but it’s a big ask to take on a rejuvenated Lakers at Staples with no days’ rest.
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