January 8, 2021
The Hornets will play a game on national television tonight. It only makes sense the one primetime game in the 2020-21 season comes against the New Orleans Pelicans as LaMelo Ball and Lonzo Ball face off for the first time as professionals.
The Ball Brothers last shared a court together when they were high schoolers at Chino Hills, when they went 35-0 in Lonzo’s senior year and won a state championship. Tonight, fans will have to take note of each team’s rotation in order to find out if/when LaMelo and Lonzo are on the court at the same time. LaMelo has been forcing head coach James Borrego’s hand with stellar play for a rookie, but he has yet to be elevated to the starting lineup, where he’d match up with his older brother. Some thought this would be the night LaMelo was promoted, but perhaps a solid performance in a high-pressure situation will seal the deal for Borrego.
In terms of the actual basketball being played, this is an intriguing matchup. The Pelicans have more size than the Hornets do after acquiring Steven Adams and former Hornets center Willy Hernangomez over the offseason. The Hornets didn’t deal with size well when facing the Philadelphia 76ers; granted, Adams is not Joel Embiid, but Zion Williamson is getting close to that level. Borrego had players constantly double-teaming Embiid and it led to shooters getting a lot of open looks beyond the arc, so we’ll have to see if/how the defensive scheme changes with less of a post threat in Adams and Williamson’s hunger for offensive boards.
Nick Richards missed the last game due to a violation of health and safety protocols, but will be available tonight. He, instead of Vernon Carey Jr., has been getting the sparing third-string center minutes so far this year. For the duration of Zeller’s injury, we can keep an eye on how Borrego spreads the minutes at center.
The Hornets will don their Mint City Edition uniforms tonight with the game tipping off a little after 7:30 p.m. EST on ESPN. Lonzo will be on the floor to start for New Orleans, and LaMelo should be getting off the bench to join him around the six or seven-minute mark in the first quarter. Tonight is one of the most anticipated Hornets games in recent memory; the star rookie faces off against his older brother on national television and the new-look Hornets get a chance to make a big impression on NBA fans across the globe.
Watch the Charlotte Hornets vs. New Orleans Pelicans tonight at 7:30 p.m. EST on ESPN and Fox Sports Southeast.