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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Charlotte Hornets

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The San Antonio Spurs look to get a win versus an ailing Charlotte Hornets team.

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs vs. Charlotte Hornets

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
January 28, 2015, 7:30 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

The San Antonio Spurs have been on a good run lately. They're 9-3 in the month of January. Save for a rough loss to Chicago, they've have looked like a much more complete team since getting Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard back into the rotation. Things are looking up for the defending champs.

The Charlotte Hornets had been in the same boat with the Spurs in January. They have the same record in the month. They got their dominant post-up option, Al Jefferson, back from injury on the 17th. After a horrid start to the season for a team that was projected to make the playoffs in the East, things had finally started to break right.

However, on the same day that Charlotte got Jefferson back, it was announced that Kemba Walker would be out for the game with a left knee injury. He missed the game following that one, and then returned, hoping to be able to keep playing. That hope ran out quickly, though, as it was announced on Monday that Walker would get surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee.

The Hornets have won the few games they've played without Walker, but it's not a whole lot to be excited about. Those wins have come against teams like the Indiana Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves, and New York Knicks; none of those teams matches the pedigree of the Spurs. In the win versus Minnesota, Charlotte only broke the 80-point mark because the game went to overtime. In the victory over New York, the team only scored 76 points.

As non-impressive as the Hornets have seemed without Walker, the Spurs have a knack for playing poorly against sub-.500 teams this season. They usually start out these games with low energy, and have allowed those bad teams to stick around in games.

But, this current Charlotte team isn't a normal bad team. They lost their primary ball-handler, playmaker, and play-initiator. Their offense will now be centered around Al Jefferson in the post. While Jefferson is one of the best post options in the league, throwing the ball to the block as a main source of offense is inefficient. It's hard to create a good look down low, and having to do so constantly will tire Jefferson out. Add in the fact that San Antonio will send help over and over again, and that will make it even tougher on Jefferson. He may end up getting his points, but it's going to be tough for the Hornets to create anything else out of that.

Charlotte has a good defense, but San Antonio should still be able to get the shots they need on offense, and starve Charlotte out on defense. Tony Parker hasn't been very productive as a scorer since his return, but his scoring potential still creates problems for opposing defenses. This allows him to still suck in defenses when he penetrates, which can create opportunities for teammates to get open looks.

Kawhi Leonard going against Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will be a great matchup to watch when the Spurs are on offense. Leonard has been very good since his return, looking more comfortable with the ball in his hand than ever. Kidd-Gilchrist is a fantastic on-ball defender, using his athleticism and technique to keep ball-handlers from getting to the hoop. Where Leonard has the ability to do damage is without the ball, where he makes smart cuts to the rim, crashes the boards relentlessly, and runs the floor in transition. Kidd-Gilchrist is capable of defending Leonard well, but he will have a challenge on his hands.

vs.

Charlotte Hornets (19-26)

San Antonio Spurs (29-17)

January 28, 2015

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

7:30 PM CDT

TV: FSSW

Radio: WOAI 1200AM

Starters

Brian Roberts

PG

Tony Parker

Gerald Henderson

SG

Danny Green

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

SF

Kawhi Leonard

Cody Zeller

PF

Tiago Splitter

Al Jefferson

C

Tim Duncan


For the Hornets' perspective, please visit At The Hive

Game prediction: Spurs by 9.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and you can get your San Antonio Spurs tickets from Daniel Farias with Spurs Sports & Entertainment: Tel: 210-444-5607 | dfarias@attcenter.com