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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Charlotte Hornets

The Rodeo Road Trip rolls into Charlotte, North Carolina with some dire history on the line for the San Antonio Spurs

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets, as has been the case for much of their recent history, are having just as forgettable a season this year as the Spurs are. At 16-43, they will be right there with the Spurs in the draft lottery this June and until a 144-138 win Monday night over the Atlanta Hawks, were mired in an 8-game losing streak that was 2nd only to the 13-game slump Gregg Popovich and his young squad have been in. Now rather than being an opportunity for both of these teams to snap a streak, the Spurs will be facing a team who have finally gotten the taste of losing out of their mouth, if only for the moment.

This 13 game losing streak the Spurs find themselves in is tied for the worst losing streak in franchise history. Spurs fans know that this isn’t the sort of thing that Pop cares about. His comments both before and throughout it have clarified what the purpose of this season is, and that’s to get their young guys out there playing and learning how to play the game at the NBA level. Still, you can bet good money that these guys, on a team that has such a winning history, would rather not have, “2022-2023,” alone at the top of that list of the worst franchise losing streaks.

San Antonio Spurs (14-44) vs Charlotte Hornets (16-43)

February 15, 2023 | 6:00 PM CT

Watch: BSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Devin Vassell (knee - OUT), Romeo Langford (thigh - OUT), Doug McDermott (Achilles - questionable), Khem Birch (knee - OUT), Tre Jones (foot - OUT), Isaiah Roby (ankle - OUT)

Hornets Injuries: Kelly Oubre Jr. (OUT), Cody Martin (knee - OUT), Kai Jones (ankle - doubtful)

What to watch for

  • The Hornets are hoping that they have something in LaMelo Ball. At 6’7”, he’s a rangy lead guard who has never met a shot that he didn’t like. Even with a dearth of talent surrounding him in Charlotte, the 2021 Rookie of the Year has managed to increase his per game averages across most of the board in each of following seasons he’s played. He’s averaging 23.9 points a game and his current mark of 8.4 assists per game ranks 4th in the league to this point, just behind the Point God himself Chris Paul. The Hornets have the worst offensive efficiency ranking in the NBA this season, but it’s tough to argue that any of the fault for that could or should be blamed on the youngest Ball.
  • It’s been a lot of fun watching Malaki Branham evolve into this latest form that’s been on display in February. The 19 year old rookie has had his strongest month of the season so far, taking full advantage of the minutes Devin Vassell’s absence has opened up on the roster. Though the 17 points a game in February surely jumps out, it’s the 40% from 3 that’s been the best thing to see. Branham is shooting just 31% from 3 this season on around 3 attempts a game, a mark that might amplify the concerns about his long ball coming into the draft, but during this 7-game stretch, is shooting nearly 6 a game and knocking them down at that 40% clip. Perhaps there’s a long ball threat in the rook after all?
  • Jeremy Sochan struggled against the Cavaliers, who currently are the #1 defensive team in the NBA, top 3 in opponent points in the paint, and boast a tandem of bigs in their starting line-up that most guys would scratch their head with a bit, but could have a pretty good bounce back game. Charlotte is nowhere near that good, as they’re 25th in the Association in defensive efficiency and are 21st in opponent points in the paint. Sochan will be contending with the likes of fellow rookie Mark Williams out of Duke, who has started the last two games for the Hornets following the trade of Mason Plumlee.
  • As mentioned earlier, a loss tonight would set the mark for the worst losing streak in Spurs’ franchise history. In the 50-year history of the Spurs, they’ve only ever gone on double-digit losing streaks what feels like an impossible 4 times, with two of those coming this season. The current mark of 13 matches the losing streak that the 1989 team endured, the year before they were joined by David Robinson, fresh out of the Navy.

For the Hornets fan’s perspective, please visit At the Hive.

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