What would the Charlotte Hornets give for Michael Jordan in his prime? Instead they’re stuck with an owner who seems to be imposing a jinx on his post-playing career.
This was, of course, supposed to be the season when Charlotte again started cheering loud and proud for its NBA team. Restored once more as the Hornets in a symbolic link back to the city’s original franchise, it rubbed the unloved Bobcats out of view.
After nudging into the playoffs last term, theirs was a team on the rise with good young talent supplemented by one of the league’s rising, if wayward, performers.
Instead, Charlotte goes into tonight’s clash with the Boston Celtics with a 5-15 record and a miserly return, even in the woeful Eastern Conference.
It took a Friday win (by one solitary point) over the Knicks to break a ten-game losing skid. And the ballyhooed arrival of Lance Stephenson has turned out to be a mis-step of the highest order with word that Jordan has already sanctioned a spot of subtle shopping of the ex-Pacer.
The Hornets slide can’t all be pinned on their free agent recruit, who is putting up a miserly 10.4 points per game with his team a telling 1.3 points better off per 100 possessions when he is off the floor.
But Charlotte are also only 25th in scoring (94.2), and 22nd in rebounding with Al Jefferson’s 7.8 boards per game one of their few redeeming factors. And we’re still no closer to knowing whether Kemba Walker is an elite point guard or a poor imitation in addition to his three-point shooting all over the shop.
Getting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist back after 12 games should boost their hopes against the free-scoring, defensive-nightmare Celtics, who had three successive victories before a 133-132 double OT loss to Washington on Monday.
Yet there’s great value on Boston, even on a small handicap of -4.5 at 2.95 and with no buzz from the Hornets, it might be another night where they lack a sting.
Best bet: Go under 196.5 total points in Charlotte-Boston at 2.90