|4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 PM MST6:00 PM EST3:00 UAE (+1)01:0019:00 ET6:00 PM CT22:00 , April 9, 2019
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio Attendance: 19,432
Hungry Hornets face critical game against Cavs
Charlotte Hornets at Cleveland Cavaliers
- Charlotte has beaten Cleveland twice in three meetings this season, more wins than the Hornets had over the Cavs in the previous four seasons combined (1-13 from 2014-15 to 2017-18). Charlotte has lost eight consecutive road games in Cleveland and has gone 10-43 in Cleveland all-time.
- Charlotte has won three straight entering tonight, with two of those wins coming on the road. The only other consecutive road wins for Charlotte this season were its first two road games from October 19-20.
- Cleveland is on a nine-game losing streak and is at risk of becoming the second team to have two separate losing streaks of at least 10 games this season (Suns). Their active 11-game road losing streak has only been topped once in the NBA this season (Suns, 13).
- Kemba Walker's 2036 points this season are the second most in a season all-time in the Charlotte Hornets franchise, trailing only Glen Rice's 2115 points in 1996-97.
- Collin Sexton's 1353 points this season are the most by a Cavaliers' rookie since LeBron James had 1654 in 2003-04. The only Cavs rookie to ever score more was Ron Harper, who had 1874 points in 1986-87.
- Frank Kaminsky has had three straight 20-point games after having one 20-point game previously this season. He's only had a higher scoring average in one month (18.1, February 2017) than the 16.8 ppg he's scored in four games this April.
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The Charlotte Hornets are still alive for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Charlotte (38-42) moved into a tie for ninth place in the East by holding off Detroit 104-91 on Sunday night for its third consecutive victory amid a playoff-like atmosphere. It's pretty much another must-win game when Charlotte plays at the Cleveland Cavaliers (19-62) on Tuesday night.
The Hornets let Detroit trim a 23-point first-half lead to one with 8:01 left in the game but pulled away for the win and climbed within one game of the eighth-place Pistons (39-41).
"We just stuck with it," head coach James Borrego said on Fox Sports Southeast. "The resiliency was there. We just keep pounding. We're not dying. We just keep pounding away. Really proud of (our) effort, our intensity, our focus tonight. That's a big-time win."
Here is what needs to happen for Charlotte to be the eighth seed in the East and meet top-seeded Milwaukee in the first round:
--Wins over Cleveland and against visiting Orlando on Wednesday night, combined with at least one Pistons loss. Charlotte swept the four-game series against Detroit and thereby owns the head-to-head tiebreaker.
--Split against the Cavs and Magic while the Pistons lose twice and the Miami Heat (38-42) lose one more game. Although the Hornets and Heat have the same record and the teams split four games, Charlotte's superior division record gives it the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Charlotte's last playoff appearance was in 2016, and the Hornets haven't advanced past the first round since 2002.
"We've played well recently and it's another big step in the right direction, not only for our group this year but just as an organization," Borrego said. "Just making strides every single day, every single game."
Charlotte All-Star guard Kemba Walker continues to lead the way, with 31 points, seven assists and eight rebounds on Sunday. He also became the ninth different player in NBA history to make 250 3-pointers in a season.
Cleveland is on a nine-game losing streak heading into its season finale. Not unexpectedly, it has been a difficult season with LeBron James leaving for the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency and center Kevin Love being healthy enough to appear in only 22 games.
He played 12 minutes in Sunday's home loss to the San Antonio Spurs, but Cavaliers coach Larry Drew said afterward it was unknown if Love would play in the finale. That could also be Drew's final game with the club; he said before Sunday's game there had yet to be any discussion about his future with the team.
One positive for the Cavs has been the play of 20-year-old rookie point guard Collin Sexton, who is averaging 16.7 points per game and shooting 40.8 percent from 3-point range.
"A decision was made early that we really wanted our young guys to grow and mature by being out on the floor," Drew said. "Collin, you see the growth."
Other young players Cavs who developed this season were Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic.
"Now you're got some guys that will come back next year that have a year of playing consistent minutes," Drew said. "And you have guys who now understand or know what it feels like to play."
--Field Level Media
Updated April 8, 2019