Charlotte Hornets guard Nic Batum’s sprained toe kept him out of Monday’s road game against the Golden State Warriors and it’s likely he will also miss Wednesday’s game in Phoenix against the Suns.
Batum originally suffered the injury – a second-toe sprain on his right foot – during the Dec. 28 home victory against the Los Angeles Lakers. He played the following two games against the Los Angeles Clippers and Toronto Raptors, and then sat out Saturday’s home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Batum said Monday he hopes to be well enough to play Saturday in the road game against the Clippers.
“I saw (the pain) wouldn’t go away if I kept playing on it. So I’m taking some rest,” Batum said. “They told me two or three games so I’ll try to play against the Clippers for sure.”
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Hornets coach Steve Clifford said it became counter-productive for Batum to try to tough his way through the injury because he couldn’t move and cut as normal. So Batum joins Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (shoulder) and Al Jefferson (meniscus tear) as starters on the sideline.
Batum said he suffered the injury when he banged feet with one of the Lakers.
“It was worse when I first did it and it was ugly in Toronto, too,” Batum said. “I could play but it would just get worse and worse. I could play but not be 100 percent.”
Clifford said the density of the schedule – the Hornets played at Toronto, home against the Thunder and then the cross-country trip to the Bay Area in four days – is a factor in sitting down Batum.
“In the two games he played, he was OK, but he certainly wasn’t himself. He didn’t have his quickness, his ability to separate (from a defender) and that is what he’s built his whole game around,” Clifford said. “I think the smart thing is to give him time to get himself healthy. First, that will get him back to who he was and, second, we don’t want it getting worse.
“I would not be confident saying he’d be ready for Phoenix. It’s better but it’s still sore. It looks better now, it was nasty a couple of days ago.”
Clifford said the Hornets’ defensive lapses of late are in part due to committing more turnovers and fouls of late. That has created transition opportunities for opposing teams and extra free-throw attempts. The Hornets still average the fewest turnovers in the league at 12.7 per game but have slipped from first to fifth in fewest fouls committed at 18.9 per game.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell