The Charlotte Hornets fell apart in the second half of a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday and suffered their fifth consecutive loss. The Hornets won’t face a team with quite as much offensive firepower as the Cavaliers on Friday, when they visit the lowly Chicago Bulls.
Charlotte was swept on a four-game road trip but looked refreshed early while scoring 67 first-half points at home against the Cavaliers before slumping to 40 after the break and dropping a 115-107 decision. The Hornets are making a brief trip before coming home for three straight games beginning on Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers and are looking to turn things around against the Bulls, who are riding their own five-game slide and are tied for the fewest wins in the NBA. Chicago trailed by at least 20 points at the end of the first quarter in each of its last two games and could not find much offense in Monday’s 92-79 setback at Oklahoma City. “At the start of the game we haven’t been able to get it going,” Bulls rookie forward Lauri Markkanen told reporters. “We have to come out and play hard. ... If we are competing at the level that we have been practicing, then we are going to win a lot of basketball games. But we have to give ourselves a chance and come out the gates playing hard. When the game starts we have to be ready to play.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FS Southeast (Charlotte), WGN (Chicago)
ABOUT THE HORNETS (5-8): Wednesday’s loss did contain two positives for Charlotte with the return of shooting guard Nicolas Batum and a strong performance from forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Batum sat out the first 12 games recovering from an elbow injury and went 7-of-15 from the floor en route to 16 points in 32 minutes while adding six assists and five rebounds on Wednesday. Kidd-Gilchrist scored a season-high 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting - 12 points better than his previous season high.
ABOUT THE BULLS (2-10): Chicago committed to a rebuild by trading away Jimmy Butler and buying out Dwyane Wade over the summer, and the inconsistency of the young roster is on display nightly. Kris Dunn, a second-year player acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves in the deal that sent Butler away, made his first start on Wednesday and struggled, scoring three points on 1-of-11 shooting in 29 minutes. “I think the whole season is going to be part of the learning process for us,” Dunn told the team’s website. “We are young and we need to learn how to grow, improve, take it to another game and try to learn from it.”
1. Charlotte SG Treveon Graham (quad) sat out the last two games and is day-to-day.
2. Chicago SG Justin Holiday left the team to be with his wife for the birth of their child and is questionable to return on Friday.
3. The Bulls took two of the three meetings last season, including a 118-111 win in the lone matchup in Chicago.
PREDICTION: Hornets 110, Bulls 96