Thursday, February 22, 2024

NBA Preview: Indiana Pacers (30-24) at Charlotte Hornets (11-41)

The Charlotte Hornets are coming off a rare victory entering Monday night’s home game against the Indiana Pacers.

Charlotte snapped a 10-game losing streak by defeating the Memphis Grizzlies 115-106 on Saturday night. The win also ended the Hornets’ eight-game, home-court skid.

The Pacers have won three of their last four games, including Saturday night’s 125-111 road decision against the New York Knicks for their 30th win of the season.

Winning two games in a row would be a big deal for the Hornets, who haven’t done that since Nov. 20 and 22.

It’s a new cast for Charlotte, which made deals and roster adjustments in the past week. So five players — Vasilije Micic, Grant Williams, Tre Mann, Davis Bertans and Seth Curry — made their Hornets debuts on Saturday night and combined for 54 points.

The Pacers, who should feel confident arriving in Charlotte, also might look different from a meeting earlier this month. They’ll be back in Charlotte after winning there 115-99 on Feb. 4. That was the Hornets’ second-lowest scoring output in their last nine home games.

Indiana added forward Doug McDermott — who played three seasons there (ending in 2020-21) — in a trade with San Antonio. Even though he was scoreless in limited playing time at New York on Saturday, he should make an impact.

The Pacers also have another factor that could work in their favor from the previous matchup with Charlotte. Point guard Tyrese Haliburton was on a minutes restriction coming off an injury, but he has worked his way up to logging 30 minutes a contest. His 22 points vs. the Knicks marked his largest output in his last 11 games.

The Hornets could receive a boost if the home crowd is as amped up as Saturday night, when the volume seemed turned up. Perhaps it had something to do with the debuts in Hornets uniforms of hometown products Williams and Curry.

Miles Bridges isn’t a Hornets newcomer and, aside from Friday night’s misery at Milwaukee — a 120-84 loss — he has been on a tear. He has led the team in scoring in three of the last four games, posting 41, 45 and 25 points in those home outings.

Pacers forward Pascal Siakam, who has been a pain for the Hornets for several seasons beginning when he played for Toronto, has led Indiana in scoring in five of 13 games since he joined the team.

Indiana has won two of three meetings with the Hornets this season.

Leather Head Sports

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