Preview: Hornets at Bulls
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[January 02, 2017]
There might not be a hotter seat
in the NBA right now than the one under Chicago Bulls coach Fred
Hoiberg, who is overseeing a team that dropped eight of its last 11
games. Hoiberg will try to quiet the noise and get 2017 started off
strong when the Bulls host the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.
Hoiberg tried to shake up the team in the last two games by sitting
veteran point guard Rajon Rondo in favor of Michael Carter-Williams,
beginning in the second half of Friday's 111-101 loss at Indiana and
continuing throughout Saturday's 116-96 setback against the
Milwaukee Bucks at home. Rondo, who met with Hoiberg prior to
Saturday's game, was due to meet with general manager Gar Forman
after the contest to discuss his role with the team. The Hornets
have no trouble identifying their point guard of the present and
future in Kemba Walker, who did everything he could with 37 points
on Saturday but could not quite push his team past the Cleveland
Cavaliers. Charlotte won five of six prior to Saturday's setback,
including a 103-91 home win over the Bulls in which Walker scored 20
points and backcourt mate Nicolas Batum recorded a triple-double.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBATV, FSN Southeast (Charlotte), CSN Chicago
ABOUT THE HORNETS (19-15): Charlotte is at its best when it's
playing strong team defense, and it held the Bulls to 39.6 percent
from the floor in the Dec. 23 meeting. That defense had more trouble
with the Cavaliers on Saturday, yielding 50.6 percent from the field
and 71 first-half points, and enters the New Year tied for eighth in
the NBA in defensive field-goal percentage at 44.6. Offensively,
Batum followed up his triple-double against the Bulls with four more
solid outings and is averaging 18.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.8
assists in the last five contests.
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THE BULLS (16-18): Hoiberg said it was a basketball decision to
bench Rondo, who is averaging 7.2 points - his lowest mark since his
2006-07 rookie campaign - on a career-worst 36.9 percent shooting.
"It's been a tough season for us right now," Rondo told reporters.
"It's been ups and downs. Certain buttons are being pushed. The
Bulls are trying to figure things out." Carter-Williams struggled to
four points on 1-of-6 shooting with four assists and a pair of
turnovers in Saturday's loss and is shooting 23.8 percent from the
field in seven games this season.
1. Hornets SG Marco Belinelli (ankle) sat out the last four games
and is questionable for Monday.
2. Chicago PF Taj Gibson is 7-of-24 from the field in the last two
3. Charlotte took the last three in the series.
PREDICTION: Hornets 109, Bulls 103
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