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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Charlotte Hornets

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The 2021 edition of the Spurs’ Rodeo Road Trip rolls into Charlotte for a Sunday showdown with the Hornets.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Save for the highlight-reel play of rookie guard LaMelo Ball, the Hornets (13-14) have sort of been an afterthought in the NBA this season. Charlotte made headlines in the offseason when they signed free agent forward Gordon Hayward to a 4-year deal and drafted Ball 3rd overall in the 2020 NBA Draft, but they continue to be a team in search of the rest of their core. Still, their record has them battling for a potential top playoff spot in the crowded Eastern Conference standings.

The Hornets are one of 5 teams that were .500 or under at the start of this year’s Spurs’ Rodeo Road Trip. They also come into tonight’s game with a few players out due to the NBA’s COVID protocols, leaving head coach James Borrego with a shortened rotation that went just 8 deep in their win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night. The Spurs, by contrast, played 13 players in their romp over the Hawks and were able to get their starters off the floor for the entire 4th quarter of that game.

San Antonio Spurs (15-11) @ Charlotte Hornets (13-14)

February 14, 2021 | 6:00 PM CST

Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: LaMarcus Aldridge (Out — hip), Luka Samanic (G League), Tre Jones (G League

Hornets Injuries: Cody Martin (OUT - COVID protocols), Caleb Martin (OUT - COVID protocols), P.J. Washington (OUT - COVID protocols)

What to watch for

  • LaMelo Ball appears to be living up to the hype - “Hype,” is something that LaMelo Ball has been dealing with long before he ever declared for the NBA Draft. The youngest of the three Ball brothers, Ball’s offensive prowess has been the subject of countless highlight videos since his days in high school, a tradition that’s followed him into the NBA in this age of social media and endless highlight reels. Averaging 15-6-6 on 44/35/80 shooting on the season, Charlotte made Ball a starter at the beginning of February, he’s thrived even more in that role, especially from beyond the arc (45% in 7 games as a starter). Ball also became the youngest player to ever post a triple-double when he racked up 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists in a win over the Hawks last month.
  • Lonnie Walker IV has a chance to make his mark with the 2nd unit - With Derrick White returning from injury and being inserted back into the starting lineup, Gregg Popovich and his staff have made the decision to bring 3rd year guard Lonnie Walker IV off the bench. A rhythm player who needs the ball in his hands, Walker has shown glimpses of his true potential over the last few seasons, but hasn’t had the opportunities in the starting line-up alongside other ball-dominant guards in DeJounte Murray and DeMar DeRozan to really take advantage. A permanent move to the 2nd unit for this season could provide him the reps that he needs to reach his full potential.
  • Terry Rozier has been lighting it up for Charlotte - While Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball have gotten most of the talk when it comes to the Hornets, Terry Rozier is having a sneaky good season on offense for Charlotte. Rozier, who is coming off a 41 point performance against the Timberwolves, is shooting 49% overall on the season and 45% from beyond the arc on close to 8 attempts per game and is averaging 20 points a night.

Vegas line: Spurs -1.5, O/U 229.5

For the visiting team’s perspective, please visit At the Hive.

As always, PtR’s game thread will be up a half hour before tip-off for members to converse in and follow along with the action.