Hornets look to continue playoff push vs. Spurs
The playoff-chasing Charlotte Hornets will be looking for their fourth consecutive victory when they host the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night.
Charlotte was in a bad way Sunday night, trailing 114-112 on the road against the powerful Toronto Raptors when guard Jeremy Lamb bobbled a pass into the backcourt in the final seconds. He gathered and heaved a desperation shot from just beyond the half-court line.
The ball banked in for three points and a 115-114 win.
Instead of being three games behind the eighth-place Miami Heat at that moment, Charlotte (34-39) was only two back in the Eastern Conference.
"I couldn't be prouder of them. I'm so happy for them," Hornets coach James Borrego said on Fox Sports Southeast.
"They deserve this win. They battled, they're sticking together, playing for each other. The ball is moving on the road in a very tough environment against a fully-loaded Toronto team. I was just proud of them on both ends of the floor."
The miracle shot keeps reasonable hope alive and propels Charlotte into its final nine games. Only three are at home, though.
San Antonio (43-31) has surged with 10 wins in its past 12 games to all but wrap up a spot in the Western Conference playoffs. But the Spurs could easily be seeded anywhere from fifth to eighth in a tight battle for positioning.
Power forward LaMarcus Aldridge comes in hot. He went off for 48 points on 20-of-31 shooting in Sunday's 115-96 victory at Boston.
"He played a great game," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "Was very aggressive offensively. When he got doubled, he just kicked the ball, so he played a fine game. Kind of like being a quarterback out there."
Aldridge is averaging 21.3 points per game, just behind team leader DeMar DeRozan (21.4).
When the Hornets and Spurs met the first time this season -- a 108-93 Charlotte road win on Jan. 14 -- the big storyline was the return of point guard Tony Parker to San Antonio. Parker had eight points and four assists that night against the franchise for which he played 17 seasons, helping them win four NBA titles.
There's no guarantee Parker will be available Tuesday night. He was away from the team Sunday for personal reasons and has missed the past four games.
Forward Cody Zeller has missed seven consecutive games because of a knee injury, and forwards Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (concussion protocol, three games) and Nic Batum (illness, two) have also been out.
Borrego has been going with a more youthful lineup recently around All-Star guard Kemba Walker (25.0 points, 5.8 assists per game), with Lamb providing scoring punch (15.2 ppg) off the bench.
Second-year guard Dwayne Bacon, who moved into the starting lineup three games ago, scored a career-high 20 against Toronto, hitting 5 of 8 attempts from behind the 3-point line.
"They look confident. They look like they belong," Borrego said of his younger contingent, which includes starting rookie forward Miles Bridges, second-year guard Malik Monk and rookie backup point guard Devonte' Graham.
"They're stepping up right now. What great action for them right now just to get these minutes in this type of environment."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 25, 2019