The Charlotte Hornets have bounced back over .500 and seem to back on track while relying heavily on guards Terry Rozier and LaMelo Ball.
Wednesday night, the Hornets visit Indianapolis, where the Pacers are dealing with serious backcourt concerns as Malcolm Brogdon continues to nurse a sore Achilles. Brogdon has missed the past two games, and although he was able to participate in some drills Monday, his availability for Wednesday remains uncertain.
“We’re just going to hope that Mother Nature is kind on Malcolm’s situation,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “In the meantime, we have to stay in the fight and try to get one or two percent better every day.”
The Hornets got 43 points Monday night from Rozier and Ball, mostly from long range in a 123-99 victory over the Houston Rockets. Rozier made seven 3-pointers and Ball four more on combined 11-for-19 shooting from beyond the arc.
Rozier said a stretch of 15-for-32 from 3-point range has boosted his confidence after a rough stretch, “and it’s going to stay high. I just have to know that I’m one of the best shooters in this league, so I just got to let it go.”
It was a good thing that Rozier and Ball were on target because Charlotte played without forwards Miles Bridges and PJ Washington, who were in the league’s health and safety protocols.
Sharp 3-point shooting and keeping a good defensive approach could be critical for the Hornets with a reduced roster.
“Take our defense with us on the road,” coach James Borrego said. “That’s the biggest area of growth for us. We have to sustain that type of effort, communication and urgency.”
The Pacers have lost two of their last three games, including Sunday’s 113-105 decision to the Chicago Bulls.
“We’ve got to try harder,” Pacers forward Myles Turner said.
They seem to have little trouble with that at home: The Pacers are 11-7 at home and 3-13 on the road this season — the widest disparity in the league. They have won five of their last six home games but have lost four in a row on the road.
Caris LeVert has led Indiana in scoring lately and had 27 in the loss to Chicago. The Pacers got Domantas Sabonis back in action Sunday after he missed the previous game with a calf injury.
Chris Duarte has started the last two games because of Brogdon’s absence. LeVert has been filling in for minutes at point guard as well.
“You never want to get in a position where you’re low on point guards in the NBA,” Carlisle said. “There’s no substitute for having a Malcolm Brogdon out there playing.”
As much as the offense sputters minus Brogdon’s 19.0 points and 6.1 assists per game, there are other areas that the Pacers want to clean up. That includes avoiding sloppy opening minutes.
“It can’t be like that,” Carlisle said. “We have to have our disposition and posture where it needs to be. It starts with a mindset. It starts with an attitude.
“Looking at our team after 35 games or whatever that is, when our defensive attitude is there and we’re in the right places, the shot-making always seems to fall into place.”
The Pacers made a roster move this week, waiving Brad Wanamaker (a former Hornet) and signing guard Keifer Sykes.
Charlotte won the first two meetings with Indiana, both at home.
–Field Level Media