Hornets (35-15, 18-7 road, 2nd West) @ Bucks (19-33, 13-10 home, 12th East)
Bucks Stats: Offense 20th (100.8 pts /100 poss), Defense 28th (107.8), Pace 24th (92.7), Rebounding 19th (.500 rr)
Hornets Stats: Offense 8th (107.6), Defense 6th (101.3), Pace 25th (92.3), Rebounding 7th (.512 rr)
Bucks Injuries: Charlie Villanueva sprained his right ankle against the Clippers and is out. Ramon Sessions has a broken left hand and is out six weeks.
Hornets Injuries: Morris Peterson has missed two straight games with back spasms. Bernard Robinson is out with a torn MCL.
- The Hornets beat the Bulls 100-86 last night after holding their opposition to 36 second-half points. Peja Stojakovic made 6-9 three pointers and matched David West's team-leading 27 points. Chris Paul added 25 points and 14 assists. The Hornets notched their 18th road win of the season, the most of any team in the West. Their 18-7 road record is the second best in the NBA, trailing only the 18-5 Celtics.
- Update: In the last ten days, Mo Williams is averaging 33.0 points, which places him first in the NBA in that timeframe. Some will use this as evidence to label him a shoot-first point guard, but as long he's shooting 56.3 % while he's putting up the points, all is fine.
- Yi Jianlian will start at power forward after Charlie Villanueva suffered a sprained right ankle against the Clippers on Monday. Charles Gardner writes Villanueva hopes to return on Feb. 20 against the Pistons, the team's first game following the All-Star break. Who will start when both forwards are at full strength is anyone's guess. Krystkowiak stuck with Villanueva after Yi returned from injury, perhaps going against his early-season mantra that it doesn't matter who starts. Villanueva, for one, wouldn't mind being the man. Gardner also notes that Andrew Bogut is knicked up after taking a hit on his injured hip in practice. Bogut expects to play.
"It's a matter of playing," Villanueva said. "Before, there was too much on my mind. I was thinking too much. I just wasn't playing basketball. When you start, you have a different mentality. This league is about confidence, man."
- The Hornets have Chris Paul, and not surprisingly the fourth best team assist/turnover ratio in the NBA. The starting point guards on the teams ahead of the Hornets? Chauncey Billups, Steve Nash, and Jose Calderon. The point guards on the teams directly after the Hornets? Deron Williams, Tony Parker, and Baron Davis. Not surprisingly, these are seven of the top point guards, and teams in the NBA. Assist/turnover ratio is actually a pretty decent predictor of team success, with the Clippers (14th) and Magic (24th) providing a couple of the few, glaring excpetions. The Bucks rank 20th in this department.
- Al Thornton, the 13th pick in last summer's draft, torched the Bucks for 25 points on Monday. The Bucks face the 12th pick in the same draft tonight in the form of Julian Wright. Wright hasn't played much, averaging just 8.2 minutes. Shooting 47.4 % from the field and averaging 3.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 0.1 assists isn't going to get you many Rookie of the Year votes. Just ask fellow Hornets forward and All-Star David West, who put up the aforementioned numbers his rookie season. Wright is shooting 48.2 % and is averaging 2.0 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 0.6 assists. Wright has a great, up-close example of why there is still plenty of reason for optimism.
- Never a good sign for the Bucks: The Hornets are among the league leaders in three point accuracy. Long known as a pure shooter and scorer, Peja Stojakovic leads the way, connecting on a career-best 47.2 % from outside. Morris Peterson, Chris Paul, and Bobby Jackson need to be tightly marked as well.
- New Orleans is hosting 2008's NBA All-Star weekend, which just happens to be a couple days away. Yi Jianlian will represent the Bucks in the Rookie Challenge on Friday night. Indeed, it's been quite a challenge for the Rookies, who have lost to the Sophomores six of eight times since the advent of the current format.
- For more great coverage, check out Hornets.com and Hornets247.
- Update: Hornets247 did a Q&A with Frank as a part of their preview for tonight's game. Very worth checking out.