The Good Guys: The Phoenix Suns, reeling from a six-game losing streak.
The Bad Guys: The Charlotte Hornets, off to a horrific start but 1-0 against the Suns.
Where: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC
When: 5:00 PM, AZ Time
The Tube: Fox Sports-AZ
The Suns were last seen crumbling to the floor as Khris Middleton's leaning jumper rattled in at the buzzer on Monday night versus the Milwaukee Bucks in Phoenix. This was the second game in this losing streak in which an opposing player hit a buzzer-beater that took a tour of the rim and backboard before falling through the hoop. Such things beg the question: Who in the Suns' organization sold their soul to Satan, and what did he/she get in return? (I hope it was at least a Ferrari)
Alas, the show must go on.
|Phoenix Suns||Charlotte Hornets|
|G - Eric Bledsoe||G - Kemba Walker|
|G - Gerald Green||G - Lance Stephenson|
|F - P.J. Tucker||F - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist|
|F - Markieff Morris||F - Cody Zeller (questionable)|
|C - Alex Len||C - Al Jefferson|
The Hornets have followed a similar arc as have the Suns in recent years. They both suffered through wretched seasons in 2012/13, then righted the ship under rookie head coaches and posted winning seasons in 2013/14, and are now struggling to find wins while their offseasons are starting to look not-so-great in (premature) hindsight.
Their big fish of the offseason was Lance Stephenson, and so far he hasn't quite been the prized marlin they were hoping for. More like a goldfish with a tumor. Thus far he is putting up a Beasley-esque line of 10.3 PPG on 11.2 FGA, with 38% shooting from the floor and 15% shooting from three. His PER is 10.5 and he has negative win shares on the year (-0.2).
The internet is abuzz with rumors that the Hornets are already declaring mea culpa while they look for offers for the enigmatic guard.
Things aren't much better elsewhere in Charlotte. Last year's Hornets hung their hat on defense, but this year they have slipped all the way from 5th overall in defensive rating to 22nd. Their offense has also managed to get worse somehow, dropping from 24th to 28th in offensive rating. They have dropped 13 of their last 15 games and recently were pasted by 37 points at home to the Brooklyn Nets.
Suddenly I feel a bit spoiled.
The Suns dropped one at home to the Hornets on November 14, 95-103. Remember when a loss at home to a poor Eastern team was considered an anomaly? Kemba Walker led Charlotte with 19 points and Bismack Biyombo went for 11 points and 10 rebounds in only 14 minutes. The Suns shot themselves out of the game, going 8-29 from three.
The Hornets look like a textbook mismatch for the Suns, with a slow pace (25th overall), an above-average big man (Al Jefferson), and the fact that they are a bad team in the Eastern Conference. The only saving grace for the Suns here is that they aren't on the second game of a back-to-back.
Let's hope that Len can at least get 5 minutes in before Jefferson puts him in foul trouble, and that Bledsoe leaves no doubt that he is the superior point guard to Walker. Sidenote: It should be amusing watching Tucker and Kidd-Gilchrist defend eachother.
Goran Dragic is day-to-day with a lower back strain, while Cody Zeller is listed as questionable with a 'bruised nose'.
Please just make the pain go away.