Charlotte Hornets vs. Chicago Bulls Pick & Prediction JANUARY 8th 2024

The Chicago Bulls and Charlotte Hornets each will have had a couple of days to rest before they meet Monday night in North Carolina for their second straight matchup.

The Bulls won Friday night in Chicago, 104-91, to kick off the home-and-home series.

Chicago has been struggling, with injuries partially to blame. Still, at 16-21, the Bulls have twice as many victories as the Hornets (8-25).

Friday night’s game was a bright spot, and coach Billy Donovan would like more of the same, particularly from guard Coby White, who scored 22 points, delivered six assists and pulled down 10 rebounds against his home-state team Friday. The Bulls shot 54.1 percent from the field, with 29 assists on their 40 field goals.

“He needs to continue to be aggressive,” Donovan said of White. “I wouldn’t want him to change the way he’s playing or feel like he has to.”

Yet there’s an area that the Bulls need to alter. Four previous times this season they’ve faced the same team in consecutive games, and they’re 0-4 in the back-end of those sets.

The good news for Chicago is that Zach LaVine is back following a 17-game absence with a foot injury and logged 30 minutes against Charlotte. Plus, Nikola Vucevic returned to action after setting out for five games due to a strained left adductor.

“It wasn’t like Zach went out and we had to revamp our offense,” Donovan said. “We never did that. But we are taking more 3s. We are getting downhill more. We are offensive rebounding more.”

LaVine and Vucevic both came off the bench. For the short term, Donovan said it’s likely to stay that way until they’re cleared for more minutes.

“Zach has missed significant time and we want to do a good job and I’ve got to help medical manage that situation,” Donovan said.

The Hornets will try to reverse their downward course, and they might have to do so with a different lineup. P.J. Washington departed Friday night with an ankle injury, though Brandon Miller was back following a one-game absence with a hip ailment.

Charlotte forward Miles Bridges scored 28 points on Friday, giving him three consecutive games of 25 or more points.

Still, the Bulls made things difficult for the Hornets, who matched their second-lowest point total of the season. Chicago stifled Terry Rozier, limiting him to 15 points on 5-of-17 shooting. He averages 23.7 points on the season.

“Their defense is really good,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. “We struggled to score against them last time (in a 111-100 road defeat last month). They were aggressive with (Rozier). They brought the second defender with a lot of his pick-and-rolls, and we didn’t move the ball the way we needed to.”

In the Dec. 6 loss at Chicago, Gordon Hayward scored a team-high 27 points. He has been out since Dec. 26 because of a left calf strain.

Charlotte has lost 12 of its past 13 games.

The Hornets will play at home for the first time since Dec. 23. They have lost five of their past six games in Charlotte.

The Bulls have lost three of their past four road games and are 4-12 away from Chicago.

–Field Level Media

Docsports, The most trusted name in sports handicapping