NBA Basketball

Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Phoenix 26 34 26 29 115
Charlotte 39 32 38 26 135
2:00 PM PT3:00 PM MT4:00 PM CT5:00 PM ET22:00 GMT6:00 3:00 PM MST5:00 PM EST2:00 UAE (+1)23:0017:00 ET4:00 PM CTNaN:� , January 19, 2019
Spectrum Center, Charlotte, North Carolina  Attendance: 19,278

Hornets to build up Bridges as Suns settle in Charlotte

According to STATS
According to STATS

Phoenix Suns at Charlotte Hornets

  1. Charlotte has won four in a row against the Suns, including a 119-113 road win on January 6. That matches the Hornets' longest win streak in the history of the series (also 2010 to 2011).
  2. The Hornets are allowing 18.8 more points per game in losses this season (120.4) than in wins (101.6) -- the largest such differential in the NBA. They are 8-0 when allowing fewer than 100 points.
  3. Phoenix lost on a last-second shot to the Raptors in Toronto on Thursday, and has gone 3-11 since a four-game win streak in mid-December. The Suns' 11-35 record is the second worst in team history through 46 games played, better only than the franchise's inaugural season in 1968-69 (9-37).
  4. Devin Booker has 51 career games with 30 or more points, fifth most by a player before turning 23 years old since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976-77. The only players with more such games since then when 22 or younger are LeBron James (134), Kevin Durant (104), Carmelo Anthony (79) and Shaquille O'Neal (76).
  5. Deandre Ayton has averaged 18.2 points and 12.3 rebounds against Eastern Conference opponents this season, compared to 15.3 points and 9.6 rebounds against the West.
  6. Kemba Walker has averaged 8.2 points per fourth quarter played this season, second only to LeBron James (8.3). He scored 18 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter of the Hornets' win over Phoenix on January 6.

Charlotte rookie forward Miles Bridges has had a mostly quiet rookie season. The Hornets are hoping that might be changing.

Bridges was part of a big bench effort Thursday night, scoring 15 points on 6 of 9 shooting in a 114-95 home win over the Sacramento Kings. For Bridges, the 12th overall pick in the draft out of Michigan State, it was just his ninth double-figure scoring game of the season.

The bench scored 60 points against the Kings, a positive development for Charlotte (21-23), which plays host to the Phoenix Suns (11-35) on Saturday.

Bridges is averaging 6.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, and coach James Borrego said the rookie is beginning to make an impact on both ends.

"He's a bright kid. He's a real bright kid," Borrego said after the game.

"He picks things up quickly. ... He's a very cerebral player. He understands the game. Now you have to translate it into the game. When it's going 100 miles an hour, can I respond and react? He has moments when he doesn't react well and others where he is growing, getting better.

"The game is slowing down. ... He's attacking. He's much more comfortable out there offensively. But he's giving us a lot defensively right now."

Borrego has been preaching defense. The Hornets are 9-0 when holding opponents under 100 points.

The Suns are not one of the NBA's high-flying teams, averaging 106.0 points per game, which ranked 26th in the league heading into Friday night's games.

But the last-place team in the Western Conference has had some encouraging results lately, including beating Eastern Conference power Toronto at home last Saturday and losing a close one at the Raptors 111-109 on Thursday night. Pascal Siakam hit a last-second layup for the win.

The Suns' Josh Jackson drew two technical fouls in the fourth quarter and was ejected. Coach Igor Kokoskov recently talked about the team's issues with officiating, saying the Suns were in "daily communication with the league office."

Said point guard Devin Booker: "We can come in and complain about calls every game, but nobody respects us and we should know that by now. Everybody knows that. If you're not one of those top teams, you're going to have to work for it."

Booker is averaging a team-high 24.5 points and 6.9 assists per game. No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton is bidding to become the first Suns rookie to average a double-double; he's at 16.5 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.

For the Hornets, point guard Kemba Walker is averaging 25.2 points per game. In a 119-113 win in Phoenix on Jan. 6, he scored 18 of his 29 points in the final 4:25.

But for Borrego, it's all about defense, which is where Bridges and the bench come into play.

"It takes us a lot of effort to defend. A lot," Borrego said.

"We can't just roll out a team and walk and go through the motions and expect to defend. Offenses are just too tough. They're too athletic. The 3-ball is too important right now.

"For us to defend, we have to have great effort. And to have great effort, you have to have great energy. So that's why I'm playing these guys shorter rotations, shorter minutes, so they're fresh out there to give us all they have defensively."

--Field Level Media

Updated January 18, 2019

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