The Charlotte Hornets are lingering around the bottom of the top eight in the Eastern Conference and did nothing in front of the trade deadline on Thursday to improve the team while several other teams in the East took obvious steps forward. The Hornets will continue to rely on All-Star guard Kemba Walker to drive them forward when they visit the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.
Charlotte dropped to 7-19 on the road with 99-93 loss at Dallas on Wednesday despite 30 points from Walker, who scored 30 or more in each of the last three contests. "He gets the best matchup every single night and the most focus, so he's resilient," Hornets coach James Borrego told reporters of Walker, who added 11 rebounds and six assists on Wednesday. "Every single night he brings it. He was a competitive kid again tonight, so give him a lot of credit." The Hawks stood pat at the deadline as well and kept a young core intact while keeping veteran swingman Vince Carter, 42, around as a mentor. Carter scored nine points in 17 minutes off the bench in Thursday's 119-101 loss to Toronto and is 9-of-14 from the floor in the last two games.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FS Southeast (Charlotte, Atlanta) LINE: Hornets -3.5
ABOUT THE HORNETS (26-28): Charlotte dropped its last three and seven of nine on the road and was disappointed in its execution late on Wednesday. "We just went dry," Borrego told reporters. "In the last 17 possessions we scored seven points. We had great looks. I'll take those looks all day. We just couldn't knock down a shot. I think our defense gave us a chance in this game. We weren't perfect defensively, but we gave ourselves a chance there. We just couldn't score down the stretch. That was the key." The Hornets are getting solid production from center Cody Zeller, who totaled 15 points and 24 rebounds in two games off the bench after returning from a fractured hand that kept him out 16 games.
ABOUT THE HAWKS (18-36): Atlanta's young core includes steadily improving rookie point guard Trae Young, who scored 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting in Thursday's loss to bounce back from a 2-of-13 effort in Monday's victory at Washington. Young is averaging 23.3 points on 48.7 percent shooting over the last seven games despite the poor performance on Monday. Small forward Taurean Prince is on a roll as well and averaged 20 points on 14-of-22 shooting over the last two games, including knocking down 10-of-15 from beyond the arc.
1. Hornets PF Marvin Williams is 4-of-17 from 3-point range over the last two games.
2. Hawks PF John Collins recorded a double-double in each of the last three games.
3. The home team took each of the first three meetings this season, with Atlanta earning a 124-123 victory at home on Nov. 25 behind 23 points and 11 rebounds from Collins.
PREDICTION: Hornets 121, Hawks 116 Bet Now
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