(Written by Austin Stallings)
Almost halfway through the regular season, and the NFC’s top 2 seeds from a year ago are set to clash, in what can only be for Home Field Advantage this January.*
*If you needed any more proof that the NFL reinvents itself every year, here it is.
Last season, the Seahawks and Panthers dominated the conference – posting 13-3 and 12-4 records on their way to securing division titles and home playoff games. This year, they meet for the third straight season – although not where they intended to be.
Instead of battling for the NFC’s top seed, the teams will be scrapping to keep their head above water this week – both with .500 records. While the Seahawks find themselves in third place in the NFC West, behind the Cardinals and 49ers — The Panthers, strangely enough, still sit atop their division and control their own destiny at 3-3-1.
Carolina has hosted Seattle the past two seasons as well, each resulting in narrow losses in which the Panthers failed to take late leads in goal-to-go situations. This year’s edition doesn’t appear to be the defensive struggle the prior two have been, but rather two struggling defenses looking to regain the league’s respect.
The two best defenses from a year ago have not been the same this season, as Carolina has already allowed more touchdowns through 8 weeks (24) than it did all of last season (21). A message was sent earlier this week when Panthers veteran Charles Godfrey was released, a player who had started 72 games for Carolina. His unsuccessful move from Safety to Nickel Corner has contributed to the defense’s lackluster performance thus far, but was only one of many issues.
Inconsistent pass-rush, poor pursuit angles and tackling, and a lack of overall discipline top the list for this year’s unit – who need to get things shored up fast if they hope to beat out New Orleans down the backstretch. It was made apparent very early how much Greg Hardy’s absence would affect this defense, but correctible issues such as untimely penalties have hurt even more — as displayed on Green Bay’s opening drive last week:
With the Packers facing a 3rd and 12 in their own territory – Not one, but two consecutive offsides penalties quickly made it 3rd and 2. Aaron Rodgers scrambled freely for the first down, and on the next play threw a long touchdown to Jordy Nelson – one that should’ve been stopped short if not for a bad angle by Roman Harper.
This Defense has the talent in place to be top-10 again, but must employ more discipline and better technique to do so. Against a Seattle team that has had struggles of it’s own this season, they have a chance to do just that.
Offensively, Carolina has far exceeded it’s preseason expectations thus far. Limited by injuries and inconsistent line-play, Cam Newton is playing the best football of his career – spreading the ball to 8 different receivers he had never thrown to before this season. He is on pace for career high’s in passer rating and completion percentage, but most importantly is showing his maturation through his leadership of the newly-assembled group. Along with Greg Olsen having yet another career year, the Offense has shown much promise and has a chance to carry the team if the banged up line can protect Newton. If the offense had the capacity to put up 31 and 37 in back-to-back weeks last season, the divisional playoff loss to San Francisco would have played out much differently.
KEY MATCHUP: Offensive Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Kelvin Benjamin will see the toughest matchup of his career this week, lining up against All Pro cornerback Richard Sherman. While he still remains among the elites, Sherman has been tested much more this season, and has shown vulnerability against the Chargers and Cowboys. If any receiver in the league has the physical skill set to slug it out with Sherman, it’s Benjamin. Look for this matchup often as a welcome-to-the-league acid test for the Panthers rookie.
INJURIES: The Panthers won’t have many game-time decisions this week, as most of the players on the injury report have already been declared inactive or cleared. Franchise-leading rusher DeAngelo Williams will miss his 4th straight game after suffering an ankle injury against Baltimore, but continues his pace to return for Thursday Night’s matchup against New Orleans. Starting nickel corner Bene Benwikere will miss another week with an ankle injury, giving practice squad call-up James Dockery the start after Godfrey’s release. The offensive line continues to face adversity, as 3 starters will be replaced by undrafted free agents this week. Here’s a look at the full injury report:
THE GAME: Quarterbacks Cam Newton and Russell Wilson will go head-to-head for the third consecutive year. The Seahawks lead the all-time series 5-2, including an NFC Championship game in 2005. This year, the Panthers have sole-possession of 1st place in the NFC South on the line, while Seattle looks to gain ground in their own division race.
Sunday at 1:00 pm, don’t look for the game on the usual FOX, it’s been picked up by CBS as a function of the NFL’s Flex scheduling program. The network typically broadcasts the AFC package but secured this game to increase it’s national coverage, while allowing FOX to broadcast London’s Atlanta-Detroit matchup at 9:30 a.m.
The Panthers are done with the White uniforms at Home, and will wear Black for the rest of the season; this Sunday with the classic Silver pants. As always – if you can’t catch the game, here is where you can find radio coverage throughout the Carolinas:
Follow Austin on Twitter @Austallings for Breaking News, Injury Updates, and General Football-oriented Rants.
(Written by Chris Parette)
For those who haven’t been watching closely, there are a lot of new faces to the 2014-15 Charlotte Hornets. Lance Stephenson, Marvin Williams, Brian Roberts, Noah Vonleh, PJ Hairston, and Jason Maxiell (potentially). That is two starters (Stephenson and Williams) and up to four bench players. Adding that to the rest of the already playoff experienced roster, the Hornets added some serious depth this offseason. Position by position, here are the grades for each group on the bench:
Point Guards: Brian Roberts, Jannero Pargo
Many Hornets preseason viewers proceeded to freak out after Pargo outplayed Roberts in the first few preseason games. As the great Aaron Rodgers said ¨Everyone needs to R-E-L-A-X¨. Roberts is a better player. He is younger and has a lot of room to grow. He also has less than a month in Coach Clifford’s system and needs to get used to playing with all of his new teammates and getting them the ball in the right spots. Pargo is still solid, but he is 34 and is really only there for locker room leadership. Charlotte could’ve easily pursued another younger backup point guard with more potential, but they wanted a veteran who is a locker room leader for the younger guys. These two guys are good, but not great.
Shooting Guards: Gerald Henderson, Gary Neal, PJ Hairston
This group has the potential to tear other second units apart. Now there are only so many minutes to go around, but with the lack of depth at small forward, there should be minutes for all of them to play. Many people think it would be smart to shop Henderson on the trading block, and I don’t disagree. If there is a potential to get some young talent or another true small forward, I think it is something that GM Rich Cho would have to consider. Being 26 years old and entering his 6th year in the NBA, we pretty much know what type of player Henderson is at this point. Neal has arguably been the most impressive Hornet of the preseason. Coach Clifford constantly talks about how important his shooting and offensive ability is to the team. The jump in the Hornets offensive efficiency after his acquisition last season back it up. Hairston has been getting a lot of preseason run as well, and he is another weapon from behind the arc. I don’t think he will get a ton of minutes at the beginning of the season, mostly because of his underwhelming defense. Anybody who knows Coach Clifford knows if you don’t play defense, you don’t play at all.
Small Forwards: ????
With Jeff Taylor’s domestic violence issue looming and his current ban from the team, there is no true backup small forward on the roster. Fortunately there are the wing players previously discussed, and there are many different players Coach Clifford can use to fill this hole. Lance Stephenson, Henderson, Hairston can all move to small forward, depending on the situation. You can move Lance to small forward and Neal to shooting guard if you need a scoring lineup and keep Lance and MKG if you need a stop on defense. There is also potential for Marvin Williams to play small forward if Coach Clifford wants to use a bigger lineup.
Power Forwards: Cody Zeller, Noah Vonleh
There is a lot of potential talent here. Zeller has a poor start to his rookie year but was a very good bench player by the end of the year. Before the All-Star break, he shot 38 percent from the field. After the break, Zeller improved to 50.7 percent. If his post All-Star break play can carry over to this season, he can be a real solid player coming off the bench as long as he can keep his fouling to a minimum. Vonleh also has a fouling issue like Zeller, and Coach Clifford said earlier this week that Vonleh won’t be in the rotation ¨anytime soon¨.
Centers: Bismack Biyombo, Jason Maxiell
If Al Jefferson was to go down for even a few weeks during the season, this backup rotation is a BIG problem. Biyombo has hardly developed at all. He isn’t a factor offensively, and all he can really provide is shot blocking and rebounding. He can be good in situational play, but if he is required to play heavy minutes during the season, look out. Maxiell is a veteran who is also a good defender, but he really was only brought in as another big body for practice. He will probably make the team, but if he is relied upon for heavy minutes, that won’t be good either. Coach Clifford has made it clear that Zeller will probably see minutes this year at backup center and can be a good change of pace guy for Jefferson. He probably isn’t quite strong enough to bang with your Dwight Howard’s and Demarcus Cousins’ of the NBA, but he is a little bit quicker and has the height to play the five.
At the beginning of the year, I believe that Clifford will set a nine man rotation that he uses in most situations. After watching preseason games, I think it will be Kemba, Lance, MKG, Williams, Al, Henderson, Neal, Roberts, and Zeller. This is obviously barring injuries, which have been plenty this preseason. I think it will take a while for Hairston and Vonleh to really see some major minutes, and it will take some trust for Clifford in order to do so. This nine man rotation is very deep, and each player brings a different set of skills to the table. If healthy, I see this bench taking advantage of many other teams’ second units.
Overall Bench Grade: B
You can follow Chris Parette on Twitter @ExtraChrisP_
Roberts/Pargo: ELIOT KAMENITZ
Hairston/MKG: AP Chuch Burton
Biyombo: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Periodically I have done emotional posts that have come at different stages in the Hornets return. I did one for the Buzz City Open House when they announced the board approved the name change. I did one for the day they officially changed their name to the Hornets but honestly it has not hit me till this post… I am 7 days away from going to a CHARLOTTE Hornets game. Wow.
People either say Bring Back the Buzz is the sole reason why the Hornets name is back or say we had nothing to do with it at all. At this moment I can honestly say we don’t care what end of the spectrum you put us at. Either way Scotty and I gave it everything we’ve had for almost 4 years and that is what matters to me. We fought like we were making a difference.
Tho I am young and I cant tell you what stats players had in a game in 1992 or recall specific plays from before 1997 like my brother BUT I can say the emotional memories I have concerning the Hornets are as vivid as ever. The impact it had on me was real. I can remember my family going to a game every Thanksgiving, Birthday or whenever Dad decided to surprise us. I remember laying on the floor in front of the TV and Scotty explaining to me what was and going on. I remember sneaking back downstairs when mom and dad fell asleep to watch games. I remember when they left. I remember crying because those experiences were my fondest memories with my family and I felt like we could never relive them together again. It was literally the first thing Scotty, my best friend/brother, and I ever connected on. The Hornets weren’t just a basketball team. They were my city, my heritage, my history and they were as cheesy as it sounds, my family.
With a mother so into History (She was a docent at the Hezekiah Alexander house, the oldest house in Mecklenburg County and was home to one of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence) we quickly learned the historical significance of the name. That combined with our city pride, obsessive/bullheaded nature, and love for sports is what spawned our site.
Bring Back The Buzz has meant so much to both of us. Ive worked harder on this than anything in my entire life besides my soccer career. Yes, harder than school (don’t tell MaMa Buzz) and harder than my Eagle Scout Award (don’t laugh, that thing was hard lol). When I got hurt and quit playing soccer for Appalachian State it literally saved me from losing my mind. It helped me fill up all that free time I had previously devoted to soccer. It helped me find my passion in life and steered me towards my career path. Above all else it helped bring our family together.
I know I’ve annoyed EVERY SINGLE ONE of my friends with my obsession over the years and I know this sounds dramatic but BBTB and yall’s support literally saved my life. THANK YOU! We have met so many great people (people who will undoubtedly be life long friends) who feel the same way we do and have gotten to do so many incredible things. The opportunity to stand next to people you have never met and fight for what you believe in is something that I hope everyone has the chance to experience in their life. There were “haters” big and small but the fans persevered. You guys made the journey together just as historical and unforgettable as the destination.
As unBEElievable as it sounds….. the Kents will be going to a Hornets game as a family again! That means more to me than I can ever explain.
Back in 1988 when the Charlotte Hornets franchise was first established not even Alexander Julian could fathom the impact his color scheme would have on Charlotte, the NBA, sports, and pop culture. It truly revolutionized what colors people viewed were appropriate or acceptable for a sports franchises to use. It transcended the basketball court and created a style that became synonymous with an entire generation. Therefore, we thought it was only appropriate to take a look back and choose what we viewed to be the top 10 Charlotte Hornets themed shoes since their inception.
10. The Adidas EQT Elevation “Draft Day Hornets”
In 1997 the Charlotte Hornets drafted Kobe Bryant 13th overall. Prior to Kobe being drafted by the Hornets he had reached two agreements, one was that he would end up a Laker and the other one was a massive shoe deal with Adidas. While Kobe’s first shoe ended up being in Lakers’ colors its nice wonder what it would have looked like in the glorious Hornets colors……. had he not told Charlotte he was too big for our small market.
9. Nike Air Force III “Hornets”
While I’m not a fan at all of the design of the Air Force III, it does incorporate the original pinstripes from the original Charlotte Hornets jersey,which means it pays enough respect to be in the top 10.
8. Air Jordan 6-17-23 Aqua
This sneaker was released by Jordan on March 12,2011 and it throws aspects of both the Jordan 6 and 17 into the same shoe. Its a nice nod to the Air Jordan 8 Aquas which we will be appearing later on in this list. While this shoes design was released again this year, the Aqua/Charlotte Hornets colorway appears to be a one time thing.
7. Ewing Athletics Wrap (Charlotte Hornets)
While Ewing’s line of shoes is most famous for it’s 33 Hi, the famous Knick decided to pay homage to the team that currently cuts his checks and the greatest colorway in the history of the NBA. The shoe has a very classic late 80s/early 90s feel to it that matches the era in which the Hornets erupted into the mainstream.
6. Nike Lebron 9 “Summit Lake Hornets”
Lebron played for the Hornets, not the Charlotte Hornets but his Youth League team called the “Summit Lake Hornets”. Lebron has decided to capitalize on the popularity of the team’s colors be releasing a series of “Summit Lake Hornets” shoes. However, the 9s hit at a time when the idea of Bringing Back the Buzz was really beginning to hit mainstream and thus shooting the popularity of these shoes through the roof.
5. Nike Zoom Kobe IV “Draft Day”
Once again nobody trolls like Kobe, his gift for revising the incidents that occurred leading up to that draft night in 1997 tend to rub Hornets fans the wrong way. Never the less he was technically a Charlotte Hornet on draft night and since we know what his shoes would have looked like with his initial Adidas contract, its only right that we get a version of the Black Mamba’s shoe had he stayed with the Hornets all the way to his Nike days.
4. Air Jordan 8 Aqua
This shoe was originally released in 1993 during the Charlotte Hornets prime and it is just a unique shoe with a phenomenal use of the Hornets colors while not being too overpowering. It uses a black base and places the majority of the color towards the bottom of the shoe.
3. Air Jordan 1 Mid Court Purple/Gamma Blue
You are looking at the owner of the Charlotte Hornets very first shoe in the colors of the team in which he currently owns. Now while this shoe may never have the title of “Air Jordan 1 Mid Charlotte Hornets”, it very obvious which team inspired the color choices.
2. Air Jordan 5 Grape
Now….this shoe will forever hold a special place in our hearts and remind us of how Jordan played with Charlotte’s emotions. It lead to so much speculation and forced us into attempting to crack the Jordan Code on whether or not our NBA team in Charlotte would once again adorn the title of Charlotte Hornets ( http://bringbackthebuzz.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/cracking-the-jordan-code-the-last-clues-are-falling-into-place/ ). It was re-released in April of 2013 with an entire line of teal and purple clothes/shoes to accompany it…..just a month before the franchise announced they were changing back the Hornets (coincidence, I think not).
1. Converse Aero Jam OG
This is it, these are the ones, when you see these you have no choice but to think CHARLOTTE HORNETS!! Larry Johnson strapped these on, turned into Grandmama, and then helped turned Hornets hysteria into a reality. Until the next generation of Charlotte Hornets players helps catapult the brand back to where it once was with their own shoes….these will forever be it!
(Written by David W. Walters)
The Charlotte Hornets (3-4) battled back from a 15-point halftime deficit and ultimately lost a close one in overtime last night against the Atlanta Hawks (3-3), 114-117, but perhaps there were a few positives that came out of the game. One positive could be that the missing starters afforded an opportunity for the reserveBuzzs to get more minutes and develop more consistency, something that was clearly missing in the last matchup with Chicago the previous night.
Only two starters played for the Hornets, as center Al Jefferson sat out the second game in as many days for the Hornets. Marvin Williams and Lance Stephenson both sat out as they nursed minor injuries from Sunday night’s game. The positive that comes from this is the amount of minutes afforded to a few of the Hornets key reserves, who looked out of place at times in Charlotte’s loss to the Bulls on Sunday.
Gary Neal recovered from his early game shooting struggles to hit some key baskets down the stretch as he flirted with a triple-double, putting up a line of 21 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Backup center Cody Zeller had a strong game as well with 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists before fouling out in the overtime period and Kemba Walker stuffed the stat sheet himself with a line of 17 points, four rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two blocks.
Bismack Biyombo started the game and responded with five points but led the team with 10 rebounds and three blocks and MKG wasn’t scared to shoot as he went 5-15 from the field and finished with 10 points. Reserve point guard Brian Williams had his best game of the exhibition season so far as he put up 14 to go with three steals and rookie P.J. Hairston had 11 points and three rebounds.
Another positive for Charlotte was top pick Noah Vonleh finally seeing his first action of the preseason after missing the past few weeks with a sports hernia injury. Vonleh played 19 minutes, scoring four points, grabbing four rebounds and getting two steals. The rookie looked out of place at times as he struggled to get up to game speed, but that should be expected, as this was his first game action with his Hornets teammates.
At one point, the Hawks went on a 20-0 tear that spanned across the first and second quarters, allowing them to take a big lead into the locker room. Paul Millsap led the Hawks with a well rounded game of 21 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks while sharp shooting guard Kyle Korver poured in 17 points to go with four assists of his own. Mike Scott had 16 points off 4-6 shooting from long range while Dennis Schroder and Thabo Sefolosha scored 12 points a piece for Atlanta.
Gerald Henderson sat out his seventh straight game as he continues to rehab a hamstring issue.
The Hornets look to get back on track when they come home to The Hive on Thursday night to face off against Roy Hibbert and the Indiana Pacers.
you can follow David W. Walters @Original_DWade.
Photo credit (NBAE/Getty Images)
Two things can be taken from opening night if the game is not sold out.
1) the Hornets are charging too much when it is $50 for the back corner. Remember where you came from. You haven’t done anything yet. Yes, you changed the name and people will pay for that but you haven’t done enough on the court yet for that to be the price.
2) the fan base has been going nuts for months and made us second in the league in new season ticket sales only behind cleveland BUT more people need to put their money where their mouth is. If you have been a huge supporter of the name coming back then $50 should not be why you don’t help fill up the hive for the first night. Especially when we have people contacting us and telling us they are flying in from Belgium and need help finding a hotel.
The Hive will only bee as great as we make it. We brought back the Hive NOW let’s Get The Hive Alive! The people of Charlotte getting off their butt and taking action is what brought the name back. We can’t lose sight of that so close to what could be the birth of a new era for not just basketball in Charlotte but for our great city’s culture.
BEE THE CHANGE.
(Written By David Gabriel)
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK!! Well you see what had happen was…well nothing happened. By the time the Panthers got their first first down of the game GB already had 21 points. First 3 GB drives touchdowns. First 3 Carolina drives 3 and outs. Penalties on third down killed us early in the game. Aaron Rodgers killed us the whole game. And the sorry ass secondary will kill us ALL season long.
I mean seriously these guys couldn’t stop the charlotte catholic cougars passing attack (and they throw like 5 times a game!) Well why does the secondary suck? Because it’s completely different from last year. Dave Gettleman got rid of starters and replaced them with backups! Not going to stop elite quarterbacks with second stringers. I mean seriously roman Harper looks old even with a helmet on. Even after this massacre and demoralization there is a slight hope.
We play in the NFC South! We are still in first thanks to a choke by New Orleans. Luckily we play a struggling Seattle this week but no QB will struggle against our secondary. Defense either cut Godfrey this week or just don’t play the man. Like I’ve said before all we have to do is make the playoffs. And that goal is still a reality! Keep pounding black and blue. Maybe practice some Defense this week for the sanity of panthers fans everywhere. Keep pounding people.
Written By David Walters
The Charlotte Hornets (3-3) fought hard but ultimately came up short in a 96-101 loss to the Chicago Bulls (4-2) on Sunday night at the United Center.
Both teams started off the game hot as they raced out to a 28-35 score at the end of the first period. The Hornets shot well but couldn’t keep up with Chicago’s hot hands, in particular Kirk Hinrich, who had 10 points in the opening period. The Bulls carried that momentum into the second quarter, as they went on an 11-2 run to open the period. The Hornets fought back with a 19-7 run of their own to close out the first half, going into the locker room with a 51-57 deficit.
The Hornets got as close as four in the third quarter, but the Bulls reserves seemed to have an answer every time the Hornets would start to chip away at their lead. The Hornets entered the final period down 70-83, but got closer with the help of rookie P.J. Hairston, who pulled the Hornets closer in the fourth with a few threes and a pair of free throws. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had a big fourth quarter as he took advantage of a couple of three-point plays while going hard at the basket in transition. The Hornets were down 96-99 in the closing seconds when Gary Neal missed a long three-point attempt that would have tied the game, forcing the Hornets to intentionally foul.
The Bulls played well, but the glaring disparity in this game was both teams’ reserves. Chicago was able to get 56 points out of their bench unit while the Hornets offense seemed to stagnate whenever the reserves would come into the game, as Charlotte only managed to get 34 points from their backups. Surely the return of Gerald Henderson will boost the second units productivity, but injuries have held the Hornets back from being able to achieve on court chemistry, especially with the teams reserve unit.
The starting unit got a large share of the minutes and responded as all five scored in double figures for the Hornets. MKG had another strong outing and finished with 14 points, six rebounds and three assists and big Al Jefferson had a solid game for the Hornets with 12 points and eight rebounds. Hairston finished the game with 12 points while going 3-6 from long range.
Two Hornets newcomers had their best games of the preseason so far as Lance Stephenson returned after missing the team’s last game to score 14 points and forward Marvin Williams contributed 12 points and nine rebounds. Both players looked more comfortable in the Hornets system, an encouraging sign going forward.
The Bulls’ point guards carried the team, as Derrick Rose scored 17 points and reserve guard Hinrich was red hot from the field, leading the Bulls in scoring with 26 points on 11-14 shooting. Third string point guard Aaron Brooks also chipped in with 13 points and three assists and offseason free agent addition Pau Gasol looked strong with 15 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Taj Gibson added eight points and 10 rebounds.
Henderson sat out again for the Hornets as he continues to nurse a hamstring injury and Noah Vonleh is still recovering from sports hernia surgery.
The Hornets will be back in action tomorrow night when they travel to Phillips Arena to face their division foe the Atlanta Hawks.
you can follow David W. Walters @Original_DWade.
Photo credit (NBAE/Getty Images)
(Written by David W. Walters)
The Charlotte Hornets used some scrappy second half play to come away with a 96-86 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night in Washington, D.C. This was a tale of two teams, as they looked like mirror images of each other from one half to the next.
The game got off to a sloppy start with bad shooting and turnovers plaguing both teams, but the Wizards eventually woke up, getting out to a 27-18 lead after the first quarter. Charlotte kept up in the second quarter but was unable to chip away at the lead as the Hornets went into the locker room with a 41-50 deficit, due mostly to poor defense, more awful shooting and the Wizards bench coming up big in the first half.
Charlotte was hot coming out of the locker room as they outscored the Wizards, 25-18, to close the game to 66-68 after three quarters. The Hornets were on fire to end the third quarter, and they carried the momentum into in the fourth quarter, as they used a pair of free throws and threes from P.J. Hairston and Jannero Pargo to jump out to the lead in the fourth quarter. The Hornets outscored the Wizards 23-1 throughout a five-minute span, which included some big shots from the Hornets reserves. They eventually cooled off as they slowed to tempo to grind out the win but the damage had already been done.
Al Jefferson led the way for the Hornets on Friday night, scoring a team high 20 points to go with eight rebounds. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had his best game of the preseason so far as he stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, a team high 11 rebounds, four steals and two blocks. Hairston and Pargo were key in the final period for Charlotte, and they finished with 11 and 12 points respectively as they shot a combined 5-7 from beyond the arc.
Kemba Walker, who was a game time decision, started the game and had 16 points, five rebounds and four assists and starting forward Marvin Williams played well with eight points, four rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Point guard John Wall led the Wizards in scoring with 14 points to go with five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Nene Hilario was a force down low for Washington, getting 10 points and three blocks in the first half alone.
The Wizards spread the scoring around and got strong play out of their bench players, with Rasual Butler chipping in nine points and veteran Andre Miller contributing eight points and five assists. Second year forward Otto Porter, who’s had an impressive exhibition season, had eight points and three steals. Paul Pierce scored 11 points but left the game just before halftime after bumping knees with Walker.
Gerald Henderson sat out the game with a hamstring injury, Lance Stephenson was out with a groin issue and Noah Vonleh was still recovering from a sports hernia. Bradley Beal missed the game for Washington.
The Hornets are back in action on Sunday night when they travel to Chicago to face Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls, and low and behold, the game will be televised on NBATV.
you can follow David W. Walters @Original_DWade.
VERIZON CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C., 7:00
Written by David W. Walters
Your Charlotte Hornets (2-2) are back on the road tonight as they visit the Verizon Center to face off against the Washington Wizards (4-1) in a southeast division matchup. This will be the second meeting between these two teams this preseason, as the Hornets beat the Wizards last Friday, 99-86.
Last time these two teams played, the Hornets led throughout the game as they exhibited a much better team defense than we had seen in the opener. The Wizards shot a paltry 37% from the field in Friday’s game, a percentage that would make it hard for any team to win a game, but the Hornets are coming off an awful shooting performance themselves shooting 34% in a 104-84 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.
At this point, the Hornets just need to focus on getting out of the preseason alive and somewhat healthy. Kemba Walker will sit out the game as he continues to recover from a knee contusion and Gerald Henderson suffered a setback after testing his hamstring out in practice. The Hornets suffered yet another backcourt injury on Thursday as guard Lance Stephenson sat out the end of practice with what appears to be a groin injury. More than likely he may sit out Fridays game as well, leaving either Gary Neal or rookie P.J. Hairston to start in his place.
The injuries so far this preseason has made it difficult for the Hornets to find much consistency and cohesion with a roster that features so many new faces. Stephenson, who figures to be a featured player this season, has struggled at times as he works his way into the teams system and Marvin Williams, who was signed to help fill the void Josh McRoberts left, has also had a slow start to the preseason and has struggled in his role as a stretch forward, shooting only 3-15 in four games so far. Meanwhile, rookie Noah Vonleh has begun a few 5-on-5 workouts but has yet to play this preseason and likely will sit out the teams remaining exhibitions.
An intriguing matchup to keep an eye on in this game is between Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Otto Porter, as both young wing players are showing off improved games so far. MKG has had a good start to the preseason, even though his retooled jump shot has been up and down so far. He has averaged 9.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per outing throughout the exhibition season so far in his quest to secure his role as the teams starting small forward this season. He has shot well from the free throw stripe though, which helps because of his penchant for driving to the basket and drawing contact. MKG has an opportunity to make a statement tonight due to the teams injuries on the wing, so hopefully he can have a strong performance a build some consistency moving forward.
Second year forward Porter didn’t get much of a chance to blossom last season as Trevor Ariza played better than expected, but he has made the most of this preseason, particularly as injuries to Bradley Beal, Martell Webster and Glen Rice have arisen. After a forgettable first game, Porter has averaged 14.5 points and just over five rebounds per game, including a 19 point, eight rebound, four assist and four steal game on Wednesday. Expect these two long, athletic forwards to go at each other in tonight’s matchup.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
PG Roberts Wall
SG Neal/Hairston Pierce
SF Kidd-Gilchrist Porter
PF Williams Nene
C Jefferson Gortat
follow David W. Walters on Twitter @Original_DWade.
Photo credit: (NBAE/Getty Images)