Washington Wizards vs. Charlotte Hornets Pick & Prediction MARCH 8th 2024

The Charlotte Hornets have their share of problems, yet they get a rare crack at a team with a worse record than theirs during Friday’s matchup with the host Washington Wizards. The teams enter with a combined 24 victories this season, 15 for the Hornets and nine for the Wizards. Washington led by 18 points Wednesday but lost its 16th consecutive game with a 119-109 home setback to the Orlando Magic, who defeated Charlotte a night earlier. “A lot of it just boils down to our inability to guard and switch in the fourth (quarter),” Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma said. The Hornets dropped their fifth straight game with a low-energy performance in Tuesday 101-89 home loss to Orlando. Some of the fatigue that might have developed from a recent packed schedule and a roster dealing with injuries could be reduced as Charlotte will play its first game since Tuesday. “We haven’t had two days off in a row in a while,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. Both teams are in the mode of assessing players for the future. “We have to play to win,” Clifford said. “We’re going to be smaller here for the rest of the year. It’s just where we’re at. It will give us a good chance to evaluate a lot of guys.” The Hornets committed 19 turnovers in the low-scoring setback to Orlando. They missed 39 shots, with only three offensive rebounds following all of those misfires. “When you have that many turnovers, it’s hard to put a good game together,” Clifford said. The Hornets are relying heavily on rookie Brandon Miller, particularly if Miles Bridges is enduring a rough outing. They have played recent games without forward Cody Martin and guard Seth Curry because of injuries. Charlotte has failed to reach the 100-point mark in five of its last seven games, while actually winning one of those five.

“We have a lot less of an offense, shot-creation, shot-making group,” Clifford said. “There’s going to be some nights here we’re not going to score a ton of points. Our defense is going to have to continue to be good.” Charlotte guard Vasilije Micic, a 30-year-old NBA rookie from Serbia, compiled a career-high 21 points Tuesday. He has been plugged into the starting point guard spot. “He was very much on the attack,” Clifford said. “He had a bunch of good finishes at the rim.” Jordan Poole’s 26 points and Kuzma’s 25 points led the Wizards on Wednesday. The Wizards are getting more production from Johnny Davis. “In the minutes he has played, the defense has picked up,” Wizards interim coach Brian Keefe said. Charlotte and Washington split two games in early November, each winning on the road across a three-night stretch. The leading scorers in those games for the Hornets were LaMelo Ball (out injured) and Gordon Hayward (since traded). Charlotte’s 124-117 victory on Nov. 10 included 73 points combined from Ball, Hayward and Mark Williams (also out with an injury). Kuzma led Washington in scoring in both games, including 33 points in the team’s 132-116 victory on Nov. 8. The Wizards were without Marvin Bagley III on Wednesday because of back spasms.

–Field Level Media

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