The Charlotte Hornets have won two games in a row three times this season. They have yet to make it three straight but get the chance on Monday, can they be our NBA pick?
Will Kings Have Gay?
I was wrong on the Kings (5-9) on Saturday as I thought they would lose in Orlando, especially without an injured Rudy Gay, the team's second-leading scorer. He did sit out, but the Kings pulled a minor upset of the Magic, 97-91 to end a two-game losing streak in game No. 3 of a five-game Eastern Conference road trip. DeMarcus Cousins, back from a one-game suspension, had 29 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, three steals and three blocks. Guy is just a monster when his head is screwed on right.
The 91 points were a season low allowed by the Kings -- only the second time they have held a team under 100 points -- in their first road win of the year. Omri Casspi played 32 minutes off the bench in the absence of Gay (strained left shoulder) and had 11 points and a season-high 11 rebounds. Fellow reserve Kosta Koufos had eight points during a 22-2 Kings run in the third quarter. Rajon Rondo had 13 points, nine assists and seven rebounds -- his streak of double-digit assists games ended at seven, which is a team record. The Kings only shot 38.3 percent and used just eight players.
Gay is listed as questionable for this game. He was hurt in the third quarter Thursday in Miami when Heat rookie Justise Winslow got the ball and Gay's arm on Gay's drive to the basket. It is the same shoulder he had surgery on in 2011 that ended his season, but this one isn't serious. Gay is averaging 17.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Darren Collison started for him vs. the Magic as Coach George Karl used a three-guard lineup with Rondo and Ben McLemore. Collison had nine points against Orlando but was a team-worst minus-9.
The Kings are 7-7 against the spread on NBA odds and 7-7 'over/under.'
Hornets Well Rested
So here's what Charlotte has done following its previous two-game winning streaks this season: lost 114-9 in San Antonio and then 102-97 in Chicago. So at least the Hornets get to go for three in a row at home this time and against a lesser opponent than the Spurs or Bulls. The Hornets (7-6) are off a 113-88 home win over the visiting and sorry Philadelphia 76ers on Friday. Al Jefferson dominated 76ers rookie Jahlil Okafor with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Over his last four games, Jefferson has averaged 20.8 points on 56 percent shooting from the field. Kemba Walker had 20 points and seven assists. Charlotte shot 48 percent from long range and was 21-for-22 from the free-throw line.
Rookie Frank Kaminsky had one of his best games of the season with nine points, three assists and three rebounds. Hornets coach Steve Clifford said that Kaminsky is getting more comfortable going up against smaller and quicker power forwards.
"I think he has the agility once he gets more comfortable to play smaller, quicker power forwards," Clifford said. "He can score both inside and outside. He can really score in the post. We just don’t have a lot [of plays] for him down there yet. I think that he’ll be good enough to defend [smaller forwards] out on the perimeter and then take them down in the post and punish them."
Kaminsky has seen a spike in minutes of late because of injuries suffered by P.J. Hairston (quad contusion) and Cody Zeller (ankle). They are both questionable to return Monday. Both did practice on Monday. Zeller is averaging 6.4 points and 5.3 rebounds and Hairston 4.8 points and 2.1 boards.
The Hornets are 7-5-1 ATS on NBA picks and 6-5-2 O/U.
On March 11 in Charlotte, the Kings beat the Hornets 113-106. Cousins had 20 points and 14 rebounds. McLemore had 27 points and Gay 26. Cousins and Gay combined for 18 points on 6-for-6 shooting in the fourth quarter. Walker had 16 points off the bench -- he was back after missing 18 games due to knee surgery. Jefferson was lost to injury in the third quarter. Zeller missed the game. On March 20, in Sacramento, the Kings won 101-91. Gay had 33 points and nine rebounds as the Kings never trailed despite not having Cousins due to a right calf strain. Walker had 18 points and Jefferson 17 for Charlotte.
Give the points, go 'over' the total. The Kings have covered only six of their past 22 after a win. Charlotte is 5-1 ATS in it past six vs. the West. The 'over' is 5-2 in the Kings' past seven on the road. The 'over' is 7-3 in the past 10 meetings in Charlotte.
NBA Picks: Hornets -4.5 & Over 208 at Bet365