NBA: Hornets take on Bulls as both pursue rare victory

Both Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls had solid stretches in January, but they’re still struggling.

Published : Feb 02, 2023 12:54 IST

LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets.
LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

It’s a good time for the Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls to meet because one of them will come away with a victory when they clash Thursday in Chicago.

Both teams had solid stretches in January, but they’re still struggling.

Charlotte had two sets of two-game winning streaks in the latter half of January. The last of those ended with Tuesday’s 124-115 road loss against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball set the franchise record for career triple-doubles by posting his eighth on the strength of 27 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

“LaMelo is young and he has the right attitude and approach to get better and better,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “He’s just beginning.”

The Hornets topped the Bulls 111-96 on Jan. 26 at home behind Terry Rozier’s 28 points. Chicago was 4 of 25 on triples in that game.

After matching their best three-game stretch of the season with three wins in a row in mid-January, the Bulls have dropped three of their last four games. That includes Tuesday’s 108-103 setback to the Los Angeles Clippers that opened a four-game homestand.

The Bulls committed untimely turnovers and totaled 20 in the game.

“The turnovers were uncharacteristic,” said Chicago coach Bill Donovan. “But we also didn’t take great shots We needed to generate better looks.”

The Bulls won seven times in January, nearly a third of their 23 total wins. With seven of 12 February games at home, Chicago has reached a critical part of its schedule.

Chicago beat Charlotte at home 106-88 on Nov. 2.

There could be a good battle on the boards between the teams. Charlotte’s Mason Plumlee averaged 11.3 rebounds per game in January. Chicago’s Nikola Vucevic has double-digit rebounding totals in 13 of the Bulls’ last 15 games, and he averaged 13.1 rebounds per game last month. He had only nine boards against the Hornets last week.

Vucevic led the Bulls in scoring for just the fourth time with 23 points against the Clippers.

Clifford said the Hornets didn’t make good decisions in the lane in the loss to Milwaukee. That accounted for the Bucks blocking eight shots and Charlotte going 20 of 38 inside.

“It was a big emphasis going in and we didn’t do a good job with that,” Clifford said.

The Hornets are just 8-21 in road games, although those eight wins account for more than half of their 15 total victories. The Bulls are 13-11 in home games.

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