On a five-game losing streak and riven by injuries after starting the season as the surprise of the NBA, the Charlotte Hornets face the LA Clippers on Saturday in a rare afternoon game. The Hornets have suffered particularly at the defensive end, not only missing Al Jefferson and Nic Batum (and longer-term, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) but also having to watch players like Jeremy Lamb play at less than 100% physically. NBA players can usually get the offense taken care of at less than 100% but defense is harder. The Hornets are giving up 111-plus points a game in the last five — that’s why they’re all losses.
On Saturday, the Hornets will need Jeremy Lin to play the role of defensive stopper against J.J. Reddick, one of the best shooters in the game and a critical weapon for the talented Clippers. Lin is a far better defensive player than he usually gets credit for, but Reddick presents a host of problems when Chris Paul is penetrating. Reddick currently ranks #2 in the league in 3-point percentage; he torched the Hornets for 26 in their last meeting. The Clippers have won eight straight. The Hornets face the Clippers on Saturday, January 9, at 3:30 ET at The Staples Center.