|Hornets, Clippers look to bounce back after losses|
Two teams will attempt to put losing ways in the rear-view mirror when the Charlotte Hornets tip off a three-game homestand against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night.
Both teams will be playing the second night of a back-to-back that got off to a painful start when they begin a two-game season series that has been decidedly one-sided in the Clippers' favor in recent years.
The Hornets blew a nine-point, fourth-quarter lead and wasted a 47-point night from Kemba Walker in a 123-120 loss at Chicago on Friday night. It was Charlotte's sixth straight defeat.
In the Clippers, the Hornets will see a team that has dropped seven in a row, including all three on a recent trip to San Antonio, Oklahoma City and New Orleans.
After returning to Los Angeles for one game -- a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday -- the Clippers found themselves heading east for another five in a row on the road, beginning with Friday's 118-113 overtime defeat at Cleveland.
The Clippers swept their third straight season series from the Hornets last season, prevailing in two tight games. Overall, Los Angeles has beaten Charlotte in 12 of the last 13 meetings.
Clippers forward Blake Griffin was the driving force in the two wins last February, nearly posting a triple-double (20 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists) in a 107-102 road win before pouring in 43 points to complement 10 rebounds in a 124-121 overtime triumph at home.
Griffin enters Saturday's game in good form, having scored 26, 29 and 23 points in his last three games. He has scored 15 or more points in each of the Clippers' 14 games.
The five-time All-Star, however, misfired on two late opportunities that might have allowed the Clippers to escape Cleveland with a win. Los Angeles never trailed in the game until the overtime.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers admits that his club, now 5-9, is still adjusting to life without Chris Paul and a shortened training camp this season.
"Every loss concerns me," he said this week. "I like our team. We just have to get right, but I want us to win while we're not right, and right now we're not."
Like the Clippers, the Hornets had a chance to pull out a dramatic road win at Chicago, but Walker couldn't convert a driving layup in the closing seconds with Charlotte trailing by just one.
Walker's big scoring night was his fifth of 40 or more points in his career. His career high of 52 points came in January 2016 against Utah.
He apologized after Friday's performance.
"I feel bad for Coach (Steve Clifford)," Walker said. "He's constantly taking the blame for a lot of our losses and it has nothing to do with him, man. He's doing the best job he can to put us in position to win games with his schemes and stuff. We're just messing everything up. It's bad. And you know, it starts with me."
Walker has scored 20 or more points in four straight games and nine of the Hornets' 14 games this season.
While Walker and Griffin won't go head to head, dynamic big men Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan will renew a rivalry that reached its greatest height in a matchup between the Houston Rockets and the Clippers in January 2016.
Howard, playing for the Rockets, dominated Jordan that night to the tune of 36 points and 26 rebounds. But it was the Clippers who prevailed 140-132, thanks in part to Jordan's 16-point, 15-rebound double-double.
Howard, who spent one season with the Los Angeles Lakers, has 18 double-doubles in his career against the Clippers but has lost 16 of 28 meetings.