CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Hornets hope to use the home court to their advantage as they attempt to reverse a two-point road loss to the short-handed Chicago Bulls 48 hours earlier when the two clubs meet in the second half of a home-and-home series Friday night.
Zach LaVine capped a 32-point night with two free throws with five-tenths of a second remaining to provide the difference Wednesday between Chicago’s first win of the season and Charlotte’s second consecutive loss.
The Bulls played without Lauri Markkanen (sprained elbow), Kris Dunn (sprained knee) and Denzel Valentine (sprained ankle), then lost Bobby Portis to the same injury Dunn had suffered two nights earlier against Dallas.
Portis, like Dunn, is expected to be out until December.
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg isn’t expecting any sympathy from the Hornets, especially given the result of Wednesday’s tightly contested affair.
“Nobody is going to feel sorry for you in this league,” he told reporters at practice Thursday. “This league is about opportunity.”
With three key teammates out, the Bulls’ Cameron Payne took advantage of that opportunity Wednesday to connect on seven 3-pointers en route to a career-best 21 points.
The Bulls won the game by outshooting the Hornets both overall (48.1 percent to 43.5) and from behind the 3-point line (34.5 percent to 28.6).
Chicago is expected to promote Jabari Parker to the starting lineup in Charlotte, where the former Duke star will be celebrating a homecoming of sorts.
Parker, who had an injury-plagued first four seasons in Milwaukee, hasn’t played at Charlotte since January of 2016, when he connected on seven of his nine shots and totaled 16 points.
One of the reasons for the poor Hornets percentages in Chicago was a rare off night by star guard Kemba Walker, who shot 5-for-14 in a 23-point effort. He’d shot 49 percent and averaged 33.0 points in Charlotte’s first four games.
Backcourt mate Malik Monk was another guy who suffered through an off shooting night, going 2-for-8. As the Hornets had split their first four games, including winning two of the first three on a four-game trip that ended in Chicago, Monk had been an early season surprise.
“He’s tough; he makes big shots,” Walker praised of the former Kentucky standout. “He did it in college. That kid is so talented. I’m super excited for him.”
Monk, a rookie last season who topped 20 points three times in April in a late-season surge, had a season-high 18 in Charlotte’s opening 113-112 loss against Milwaukee. That was the only home game the Hornets have played so far.
The competitiveness of Wednesday’s game at Chicago was nothing new to the Bulls-Hornets rivalry. They met four times last season, with the Bulls winning by three, six and eight in overtime.
The only one-sided contest took place in Charlotte, a 118-103 Hornets win that featured 11-for-19 shooting and six 3-pointers by Walker.
The Hornets play five of their next six games at home.