The Charlotte Hornets go on the road to tussle with the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night in the NBA. The Hornets have been competitive for much of the season, although their record of 3-5 doesn’t reflect that. The Pelicans' story is pretty much the same, though they have a slightly better record at 4-4.
Check out the first-half schedule of the 2020-21 NBA season here.
Fixture - Charlotte Hornets vs. New Orleans Pelicans | 2020-21 NBA Season
Date & Time - Friday, January 8th, 7:30 PM ET (Saturday, January 9th, 6:00 AM IST)
Location - Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA.
The Charlotte Hornets won their last game, a 102-94 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. Gordon Hayward went off for a career-high 44 points, as he dismantled the Hawks’ defense to reach a personal best.
On the other hand, the New Orleans Pelicans are coming off of two straight losses. They failed to protect their leads against the Indiana Pacers on Monday and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday.
Charlotte Hornets Preview
The season has been quite good for the Charlotte Hornets despite a record below .500. They won their first two games, including a 106-104 nailbiter versus the Brooklyn Nets, who are considered one of the top title contenders this season.
When they face the New Orleans Pelicans, they will have to channel that world-beater experience to get the better of a talented squad bannered by All-Star forward Brandon Ingram.
Key Player - Gordon Hayward
From the start of the season, Gordon Hayward showed why the Charlotte Hornets acquired him in a sign-and-trade deal with the Boston Celtics. The veteran forward has found his stroke with the Hornets now that he has teammates who are looking for him to score. This is in contrast to his time in Boston.
Though his scoring has been inconsistent, Hayward drops in enough buckets to give the Charlotte Hornets a chance to win. After his last outing, he should find it easier to make baskets this time.
Charlotte Hornets Predicted Lineup
G Devonte Graham G Terry Rozier IV F Gordon Hayward F P.J. Washington C Bismack Biyombo
New Orleans Pelicans Preview
Defense will be the key for the New Orleans Pelicans, who hope to set aside consecutive heartbreakers this past week. For the Pelicans to snap out of their funk, they have to make stops in the last few minutes of the game, not just in the first 45 minutes.
Interestingly, the Pelicans are actually a very good defensive team. They are fifth among the 30 NBA teams in defensive rating at 104.9.
Key Player - Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson has had some sensational games this season, including a 32-point, 14-rebound performance on Christmas Day against the Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat. Unfortunately, it came in a 111-98 loss.
Williamson averaged 26.3 points per game in the New Orleans Pelicans’ four losses, compared to 16.5 points in their four wins. This doesn’t mean that he has to score less for the team to win.
It simply means that the Pelicans have more help in scoring when they win. But the team also needs not to waste Williamson’s efforts when they have a chance to win in close games.
New Orleans Pelicans Predicted Lineup
G Lonzo Ball G Eric Bledsoe F Brandon Ingram F Zion Williamson C Steven Adams
Hornets vs. Pelicans Match Prediction
The New Orleans Pelicans need to neutralize Gordon Hayward if they want to win the game. Hayward’s hot shooting in his last game could easily carry over to Friday’s match.
The Charlotte Hornets have two 20-point scorers this season in Hayward (21.9) and Terry Rozier (20.6). They are a dangerous opponent for any team they face. But the same is true for the Pelicans, who rely on Williamson (21.4) and Brandon Ingram (24.9) on a nightly basis.
When these two teams meet, the Pelicans may have already learned from their recent failures and clamp down on defense for the full 48 minutes to take home the win against the Hornets.
Where to Watch Hornets vs. Pelicans?
The New Orleans Pelicans vs. Charlotte Hornets game will be shown locally via Fox Sports New Orleans and FOX Sports Southeast Charlotte. International audiences can live stream the game with an NBA League Pass subscription.