The Los Angeles Lakers endured a wire-to-wire beatdown in Memphis but have to get up for a game against the Charlotte Hornets in the second half of a back-to-back. One of the worst offenses in the NBA went off against the league's worst defense Sunday, tacking on another deflating loss in a disappointing season.
The Hornets, coincidentally, beat the Grizzlies in their last game out. Charlotte's in position to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference after missing the postseason last year. They lost Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for the season, making their acquisition of Nicolas Batum all the more important. He's averaging a career-high 16.3 points per game while shooting 37.1 percent from deep and dishing 4.9 assists per game, putting up strong numbers on a contract year. Batum will be a coveted unrestricted free agent this summer and is making his case for a big contract from a team in need of a quality wing.
Kemba Walker leads the Hornets in scoring and will be a challenge for the Lakers' horrific defense to contain. It's easy to imagine Charlotte running pick-and-rolls so Walker can stroll into open space to splash jumpers over a sagging-back Roy Hibbert. That also bodes well for Jeremy Lin, who fills in the reserve point guard role. Lin's scoring slightly-more points than last season (.6 more, to be exact) and less assists (1.5 less) with similar shooting splits as his lone season with the Lakers. His change of scenery hasn't led to much of a shift in his production.
Lakers head coach Byron Scott said his team is mentally fried following their loss Sunday, but with over 50 games left, they've only just begun. 82-game seasons are a beast and the purple and gold have failed to tame it. Blame it on inexperience, blame it on the coaching, blame it on whatever you want at this point. The Lakers are bad and have shown seldom proof of any improvements.
The most exciting thing about this one might end up being a Michael Jordan sighting in Kobe's last game in Charlotte -- the team that traded the draft rights to him. Enjoy the game.
Time: 4 p.m. PT
TV: TWCSN, FSS