Monday, December 5, 2022
Al Rossi Sports Investments

Preview: Charlotte Hornets (10-8) at Washington Wizards (11-5)

The Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards have each produced a five-game winning streak this month, and they will try to get going back in that direction Monday night when they meet in Washington.

“We want to continue to build on what we have,” Wizards guard Bradley Beal said. “It’s a lot of new faces, new coach, new system. Everybody is still learning. We’re still learning on the fly. It’s amazing to see that we’re able to put some wins together while we’re still learning.”

Even when the Hornets’ streak ended Saturday night with a 115-105 loss in Atlanta, there were encouraging signs.

“We didn’t give in and we could have given in much earlier,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said.

Washington had a five-game winning streak snapped last week when it lost 97-87 in Charlotte. That became a two-game skid for the Wizards before they won 103-100 at home Saturday against the Miami Heat.

“We’re a team that’s never going to give up,” Wizards guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said. “We’re going to fight until the end. That’s our DNA.”

Washington has won its last four home games and is 7-1 at home this season.

“The crowd has been terrific,” coach Wes Unseld Jr. “In those moments, you feel it and it drives our guys. It gives them an extra boost.”

The players agree.

“It’s a very playoff-like atmosphere,” Beal said. “We definitely feed off that. We love the support. We need it. … We want to get this city back rocking again. We’re off to a good start, but we still got a lot of work to do. Always having a good home crowd helps us.”

The Wizards have embraced having Beal, one of the league’s leading scorers, back in the lineup after he missed a couple of games because of a personal matter. The Wizards know one of the keys is getting Beal in position for good scoring opportunities.

“A big key is to get Brad going,” Washington guard Spencer Dinwiddie said.

The Hornets have come to count regularly on Miles Bridges and LaMelo Ball. That duo combined for 50 points in Atlanta — 35 of those came from Bridges, marking a career high.

Charlotte needs others to rise to the level of Bridges and Ball.

“They’re constantly fighting to give us a chance to win games,” Borrego said. “Both guys are playing at a high level and I expect other guys to join them on Monday.”

Hornets reserve Cody Martin said the team received another reminder that they can’t rely on producing huge second-half comebacks. That should put more emphasis on clicking throughout the entire 48 minutes.

This is a difficult stretch for the Hornets, who began a road stretch Saturday and will be playing their third game in four nights.

“Nobody is hanging their heads,” Martin said. “That’s a learning experience for our team.”

But it’s important for the Hornets not to let one loss turn into more problems. Before their five-game winning streak, they had lost five consecutive games (four of them on the road).

Monday is the second game in a stretch where seven of eight games are away from home.

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