Hornets host Clippers seeking rare home sweep
The Charlotte Hornets will look to complete the first 3-0 homestand since before their move to New Orleans when they host the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night in a duel of two teams clinging to playoff positions.
The Hornets swept visitors Memphis and Chicago, and now get a chance to do something the franchise has never done since its rebirth in the NBA as the Bobcats in 2004.
The last time the club won every contest of a homestand of three or more games bridged January and February of 2002, when the Hornets beat San Antonio, Houston and Memphis.
The news is all good surrounding Charlotte this week, with key contributor Cody Zeller close to returning from surgery on his right hand that's kept him out of the last 16 games.
It's possible that return will come against the Clippers.
"I'd like to get him back into the mix as soon as possible, throw him in the fire and see what we've got," Hornets coach James Borrego said. "It's not like Cody's going on the floor and he's a new player. I don't think it's going to take a while to get back in a rhythm with Cody because he's just been around so long."
Zeller wasn't with the team when it got thumped 128-109 on the road against the Clippers on Jan. 8. Hornets star Kemba Walker struggled in that one, missing 12 of his 18 shots and finishing with just 13 points.
The Clippers used superior depth to run away from the Hornets on what was their third stop on a six-game trip. Lou Williams (27 points), Montrezl Harrell (23), Tobias Harris (23) and Danilo Gallinari (20) all scored 20 or more points in the win.
Los Angeles split the first two outings on a 10-day, six-game trip, winning at Detroit on Saturday night before falling 121-103 at Toronto on Sunday afternoon.
Clippers coach Don Rivers didn't care for the early start at Toronto, even if it meant getting an opportunity to watch that other Los Angeles team compete in the Super Bowl.
"I don't complain a lot about scheduling," he insisted to reporters about getting 19 hours between playing the Pistons and Raptors. "This one, right when we saw it, it's ridiculous."
The Clippers got Monday off. The Hornets haven't played since Saturday.
Los Angeles (29-25) began the week in the eighth playoff spot in a tightly packed Western race. The Clippers woke up Monday morning just three game out of the No. 5 spot, but also just four games from being 12th.
The Clippers have made the playoffs six of the last seven seasons, having finished first or second in the Pacific Division each of those years.
The Hornets (26-26), meanwhile, got a break Saturday when the Clippers won at Detroit, one of Charlotte's closest competitors in the Eastern playoff chase.
Charlotte will tip off Tuesday night with the seventh-best record in the East in its quest to end a two-year playoff drought.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 4, 2019