Sliding Hornets look for more urgency entering game with Cavs

NBA

The sense of urgency is apparent for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Charlotte Hornets would like to catch some of that as well.

The two teams that have sputtered in recent games meet Friday night in Charlotte, N.C.

“Any game is a must-win for us,” Cavaliers guard Darius Garland said.

Coach J.B. Bickerstaff is expected to be back with the Cavaliers (21-37) after a one-game absence for personal reasons. Assistant coach Greg Buckner has filled in for him.

The Cavaliers keep hoping that they’re ready to turn the corner. They’ve tried numerous tonics, but they’ve won only twice in their last seven games after rolling past the Chicago Bulls Wednesday night.

“No matter how much film you watch, no matter how many meetings we have or how much (a coach) screams and yells at us, it’s us out there,” Cleveland guard Collin Sexton said. “We have to be the ones to do it and do it consistently.”

Sexton is coming off a 30-point outing against Chicago. That was the lone home game for the Cavaliers during their current six-game stretch.

The Hornets (28-30) have dropped six of their last seven games. They’re coming off Thursday night’s 108-91 beatdown at Chicago, where they fell behind by double digits early and didn’t threaten to come back.

“We don’t have much room for error at either end,” Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham said. “Obviously, we’ve got to defend at a very high level.”

The offense hasn’t clicked often enough recently for the Hornets. Graham was in his second game back from an injury, and he led Charlotte’s scoring with 16 points in the Chicago game. That came with 3-for-11 shooting from 3-point range.

“Our offense and our schemes have been pretty much the same all year,” Graham said. “You have to pretty much be aggressive.”

In half of its last dozen games, Charlotte hasn’t reached the 100-point mark.

“You might score 100. You might not,” Graham said. “There ain’t no tricks to it. You have to go in and play and hopefully you make shots.”

Some of Cleveland’s offense has been carried by Garland. In Wednesday’s win the second-year pro reached the 200 mark for made 3-pointers faster than any player in franchise history.

“Just trusting my work every day,” said Garland, a 2019 first-round draft selection out of Vanderbilt. “I put in the work all the time. Just having the confidence in myself that I can do it and make these shots.”

Garland reached that plateau in 107 games. The previous team record was turned in by Kyrie Irving, who used 121 games with the Cavaliers to sink 200 3-pointers.

The Hornets don’t want to waste many of the good stretches earlier in the season that put them in prime position.

“It’s fun (to be in playoff contention),” Graham said. “This is what you dream about, to be in this position.”

Cleveland has won two previous matchups with Charlotte this season by scores of 121-114 on opening night in Cleveland and 103-90 last week in Charlotte. Taurean Prince posted a season-high 25 points for the Cavaliers in the most recent matchup, but reports said Prince is expected to undergo season-ending ankle surgery.

–Field Level Media

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