Team Records: Portland (11-3) at Charlotte (4-11)
Game Info: 4 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -6
Refs: Tom Washington, Sean Corbin, Mitchell Ervin
The Skinny: The Blazers look to take down the reeling Hornets on the road in Charlotte as they look for their ninth straight win. The Hornets have lost six straight and eight of their last nine overall. This is the final game in Portland’s three game east coast swing.
Last Time They Met: The Hornets were up by as much as 23 in the first half and 17 in the second before the Blazers rallied to pull off a late comeback win. Lillard led the way with 29 points, including 5-8 from three point range, in the win.
Projected Hornets Lineup:
PF-Marvin Williams (North Carolina-10th Season)- 6.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.1 APG.
SF-Gerald Henderson (Duke-6th Season)-5.7 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1.4 APG.
C-Al Jefferson (Prentiss (HS)-11th Season)-20.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.7 APG
SG-Lance Stephenson (Cincinnati-5th Season)-9.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 5.5 APG.
PG-Kemba Walker (Connecticut-4th Season)-14.7 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 5 APG.
Player to Watch-Lance Stephenson (pictured at right)-Lance Stephenson was supposed to fix Charlotte’s struggling offense. He was supposed to be the spark plug the team needed to break out of its struggles. After a good year last year for the Pacers, Stephenson hasn’t lived up to his end of the bargain. To be fair, its not entirely his fault. The team he’s playing on is worse than the one he left but still the drop is significant. Stephenson is capable of getting hot at any given time but so far he hasn’t, shooting 13% worse than he did last year overall and from 3. His rebounding and assists are up but beyond that, he’s still struggling to try and find his way on his new team.
Did You Know?: The then Bobcats won 43 games last year, they had only 28 wins in the prior two seasons COMBINED.
Song of the Day: Thanksgiving Song” by Adam Sandler. An old SNL classic, happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy:
Portland: Out-PG CJ McCollum (Finger)
Charlotte: Out-SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Foot), Doubtful-SG Gary Neal (Shoulder), Probable-SG PJ Hairston (Ankle)
Re-Evaluating Charlotte: Failure to Close
Charlotte has been in a tailspin as of late, but is not like they’ve been getting blown out. Charlotte has instead had a difficult time closing teams out, as they certainly did in their visit to Portland a few weeks ago The Hornets are 2-5 in games decided by 3 or less and are 28th in the NBA in second half point differential. Call it lack of coaching, call it luck, whatever you want, but the Hornets are just not winning close games. If they want another playoff trip this year, even in the weak east, they need to turn it around, and fast.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They limit Charlotte’s 3 point makes. The Hornets did best in Portland when they made lots of 3s. If Portland can limit Charlotte’s makes, they should win.
Charlotte wins if: Make someone other than LMA or Lillard beat them. The Hornets simply can’t guard Lillard or LMA. If they want a chance at ending their six game losing streak, they need to make one of Portland’s other players step up big time.