The Charlotte Hornets pushed the Cleveland Cavaliers to the brink before falling and now face one of the other top teams in the NBA when they host the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday. Charlotte dropped a 100-99 decision in Cleveland on Friday as its three-game winning streak concluded.
San Antonio, which lost 107-90 to the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, has won the past three meetings with the Hornets and that includes a 108-101 victory on Nov. 3 in which Charlotte guard Kemba Walker was limited to 13 points. “He has just steadily become a professional over the years and has taken his craft seriously because he wanted to be an all-around player and not just somebody who can shoot open 3s,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters about the high-scoring Walker. “He’s gone to work every day with that thought.” Walker tallied just 15 points on 6-of-21 shooting in Friday’s setback as center Dwight Howard led the way with 20 points and 13 rebounds. The Spurs haven’t played well on the road this season and bring a 3-5 mark into the contest.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Southwest (San Antonio), FSN Southeast (Charlotte)
ABOUT THE SPURS (11-7): Fourth-year pro Kyle Anderson has proven to be an asset this season while starting all 18 games in place of injured All-Star small forward Kawhi Leonard. Anderson is shooting 50 percent from the field while averaging 8.8 points and 6.2 rebounds and has scored in double figures in three straight games and five of his past seven. “We’re not surprised at all,” Popovich said of Anderson’s strong performance. “He’s just had a hard time getting minutes with Kawhi at that spot. He’s always been a good basketball player. I just haven’t given him the minutes that he’s gotten this year. When Kawhi does come back, I’ve got some figuring out to do, because he should still be on the court somehow or other.”
ABOUT THE HORNETS (8-10): Starting shooting guard Nicolas Batum (elbow) is questionable after sitting out Friday, which would mean another start for Jeremy Lamb despite his struggles against the Cavaliers. Lamb suffered through his worst shooting performance of the season against Cleveland as he scored just 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting and missed a potential game-winning 3-point shot in the final seconds. The 25-year-old has four 20-point outings this season, topped by a season-high 27 on 10-of-15 shooting in the loss to San Antonio earlier this month.
1. The Spurs are 19-8 when visiting Charlotte.
2. Howard is averaging 21.8 points and 15.5 rebounds over the past four contests.
3. San Antonio reserve G Bryn Forbes scored a career-best 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the Nov. 3 meeting.
PREDICTION: Spurs 105, Hornets 98