A chat about the best point guards in the East has to include the Hornets’ Kemba Walker, who’s taken on bigger responsibilities while putting together his most efficient season yet. The 26-year-old is a big reason the Hornets haven’t taken a step back this year despite losing a few key players and a down year from starter Marvin Williams and will merit serious consideration for an All-Star spot.
Walker keys an offense that commits few turnovers (lowest in the league) and is otherwise pretty well-balanced, with five guys averaging between 10 and 15 points per game. One of them is former Spur Marco Belinelli, who very nearly pulled off the play of the year a few nights ago against Detroit:
Marco Belinelli nearly pulls off the greatest buzzer-beater the NBA regular season has ever seen (ruled NO GOOD after review) pic.twitter.com/EPq4PtX9ZE— Win or I quit (@World_Wide_Wob) January 6, 2017
The Hornets haven’t been great on the road, and they could be missing some important players tonight. Speed and range at the point-guard position is always going to be a challenge for the Spurs to deal with, but they’re playing so well right now that I don’t think it matters. They own the league’s best defensive rating and have put up at least 110 in four straight games. Charlotte will need to be at their best to take this one.
San Antonio Spurs (29-7) vs. Charlotte Hornets (20-16)
Jan. 7, 2016 | 7:30 CST
Watch: FSSW; Listen: 1200 AM WOAI
Spurs injuries: none
Hornets injuries: Cody Zeller (concussion), Nicolas Batum (knee)
LaMarcus is earning those #NBAVotes
71%. That’s LaMarcus Aldridge’s field-goal percentage since the Spurs’ Christmas Day win over the Bulls. He’s averaged 23 points over that stretch and indeed looking more aggressive than he has in a while.
After the Spurs’ win in Charlotte earlier this year, Gregg Popovich said it’s not fair how fast the Hornets point guard is. Walker is averaging 23.2 points, 5.4 assists and 4.3 boards while shooting 47% from the field on the year. He’s pretty good.
The Hornets will miss Cody Zeller, again
The hopes for a Roynaissance in Charlotte haven’t really panned out. Whether off the bench or starting in place of Zeller (concussion), Hibbert’s not provided the type of defensive impact that made him a force in Indiana, and Steve Clifford’s been just as willing to lean more on Spencer Hawes or Frank Kaminsky.
Zeller missed the last game against the Spurs, and it appears he’ll be out again. That’s a shame for Charlotte, he’s probably the big that would give San Antonio the most trouble.
The Hornets may also be without key secondary creator Nicolas Batum, day-to-day with a knee injury, which will put more weight on Walker’s shoulders. It also makes them that much easier to scheme for.
Vegas line: Spurs by 11.
Game prediction: Spurs by 12.
For the Hornets fans’ perspective, visit At the Hive.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher.
PtR's Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR's Twitter feed.