The Charlotte Hornets have averaged the fewest turnovers in the NBA each of the past four seasons, but taking care of the ball will be a focal point in Friday’s home opener against the Atlanta Hawks. Charlotte struggled in Wednesday’s 102-90 loss at Detroit, committing 17 turnovers (more than five per game more than it averaged last season) as two newcomers – veteran center Dwight Howard and rookie guard Dwayne Bacon – made their debuts in the Hornets’ starting lineup.
“We’ve just got to be better with the ball,” Howard told reporters after scoring 10 points with 15 rebounds and two blocked shots. “We’ve got to be more strong when we get it, when opponents put us on our heels.” Howard gets a chance in his first home game with his new team to face his old team, as Atlanta comes to town following an impressive 117-111 victory at Dallas in its season opener Wednesday. On a roster full of newcomers and inexperienced players, veteran Marco Belinelli hit on 4-of-6 3-point attempts off the bench in scoring 20 points. “It’s just great to have somebody like that coming off the bench and looking for his shots,” point guard Dennis Schroder told the media in describing Belinelli’s performance.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Southeast (Atlanta), FSN Southeast (Charlotte)
ABOUT THE HAWKS (1-0): Schroder was outstanding in his season debut, shooting 13-of-26 from the field for 28 points to go with seven assists. Second-year forward Taurean Prince pulled down 10 rebounds, and rookie forward John Collins scored 14 points with five rebounds in his NBA debut. Atlanta’s bench finished with 57 points on 56.1 percent shooting from the field.
ABOUT THE HORNETS (0-1): The turnovers proved problematic as Detroit finished the night with 26 points off Hornets’ miscues, and shot 52 percent from the field against Charlotte’s defense in the opening quarter. Guard Kemba Walker scored 24 points with six rebounds and four assists, but the rest of the Hornets shot just 38.3 percent from the field. Cody Zeller came off the bench to score eight points with nine rebounds.
1. Atlanta shot 51.1 percent from the field, 50 percent from 3-point range, 80 percent from the free-throw line and recorded 50 rebounds in the opener, reaching those marks in the same game for the first time since Jan. 30, 1993 vs. Philadelphia.
2. The Hornets played Wednesday without G Nicolas Batum (elbow) and F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (excused personal absence).
3. Charlotte won three of the four meetings with Atlanta last season, before sending Belinelli and Miles Plumlee to the Hawks for Howard in the offseason.
PREDICTION: Hornets 106, Hawks 101