Bulls-Hornets Preview

New Orleans Hornets Status Check:
Record: 8-25
Division: 0-7
Conference: 3-19
Road Record: 5-11
Last 10 Games: 4-6
Streak: Won 1
Last game: 89-84 win over Cleveland
PPG: 88.2(29th)
Opponents PPG: 93.2 (11th)
Offensive Rating: 99.1 (27th)
Defensive Rating: 104.8 (19th)
Pace: 88.4 (30th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .464 (25th)
Turnover Percentage: .150 (27th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .736 (16th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .284 (11th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .194 (20th)
Opp. eFG%: .485 (18th)
Opp. TO%:  .139 (18th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .237 (26th)
Leading scorer: Jarrett Jack (15.1)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Hornets Injury Report:
Eric Gordon: out for tonight’s game
Carl Landry: out for tonight’s game
Emeka Okafor: probable for tonight’s game
Jason Smith: probable for tonight’s game

The second-half of the season is upon the NBA, and although the Bulls schedule is going to be tougher than their first 35 games, it starts off pretty easy tonight.

The Bulls, who are a half-game behind Miami for the lead in the Eastern Conference, take on the Hornets, who are second-to-last in the West.

Chicago and New Orleans played 20 days ago; a game the Bulls ran away with. It was also the game in which Derrick Rose left with his back injury. He would ultimately miss five games before returning last Monday. Rose played just 22 minutes in this matchup, scoring six points to go with five rebounds and six assists.

But he wasn’t really needed as Chicago’s defense did most of the work. They gave up only 67 points, holding New Orleans to 37 percent shooting.

Taj Gibson had a big game off the bench, scoring 14 points (7-12) and grabbing six rebounds. Carlos Boozer led all scorers with 18 points, while Joakim Noah notched another double, with 13 points and ten rebounds.

The Hornets didn’t play well in that game, but they’ve improved lately and have also been good against non-conference opponents.

Half of the Hornets eight wins have come in their last six games (4-2), and New Orleans is 5-6 against the Eastern Conference. That includes a win over Cleveland in their last game before the break. They’ve beaten Boston, Orlando, Milwaukee, New York and Cleveland, which isn’t actually a bad set of wins for a team that only has three more W’s on their schedule.

The Hornets had the toughest schedule (according to Basketball-Reference’s system) in the first half of the season. The Bulls on the other hand, had the easiest schedule (it is skewed because they can’t play themselves, but still).

New Orleans could be even better tonight, with the possibility of Emeka Okafor and Jason Smith returning to their line-up.

Chris Kaman scored 17 points to go with six rebounds in the loss in the loss to Chicago. Kaman has played well in the starting line-up in place of Okafor. He’s averaging 17.8 points and 9.0 rebounds in his starting role. His six starts coincide with New Orleans’ 4-2 record.

The Bulls may be getting some players back from injury as well. Rip Hamilton took contact in Monday’s practice, according to the Associated Press, and will be a game-time decision. C.J. Watson will return to action after missing two games.

The Bulls look to get their first win of the second half of the season, before leaving Chicago for a tough three game road trip against San Antonio, Cleveland and Philadelphia.

Farewell for now, Mike James: Mike James was once again released. In all honesty, he has played well, far exceeding my expectations. Considering how many injuries the Bulls have had this season, we could very well see James again. He averaged 6.1 points and 3.6 assists this season.

Stat of the night: According to Stats LLC, the Bulls are 19-2 when Carlos Boozer scores at least 16 points.

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