Could there be a worse game for the Charlotte Hornets to play without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist?
Kidd-Gilchrist missed Wednesday morning’s shootaround with what coach Steve Clifford called a case of food poisoning. If Kidd-Gilchrist can’t play Wednesday night, the Hornets will be without their best defensive option against Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James.
The Cavs were blown out 98-79 in Miami Tuesday night before flying to Charlotte, and have fallen to just a half-game ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers for third place in the Eastern Conference standings. In his 15th NBA season, James is assembling Most Valuable Player numbers: He’s third in the league in scoring at 27.4 points per game and second in assists at 9.1.
Clifford said he’s undecided who to start tonight if Kidd-Gilchrist can’t play. The options beyond Kidd-Gilchrist, to guard James, would be Treveon Graham, rookie Dwayne Bacon and Marvin Williams.
Clifford said watching the Heat go up 20 on the Cavaliers Tuesday, he noticed how persistent and analytical James still was in trying to give his team a chance in the second half.
“I’m just sitting there watching in my living room, and he thinks they’re still going to win,” Clifford said. “You just look at him, and in his mind, ‘I’m going to figure out a way that we’re going to win the game.’ That is his greatness, to me.”
Hornets guard Kemba Walker is 20 points away from breaking Dell Curry’s franchise scoring record of 9,839 career points. Walker wants to reach that goal at home tonight (the Hornets’ next game is at Washington Saturday afternoon), but Walker said he won’t be selfish looking for shots just to chase the record.
“I’m going to play my regular game,” Walker said at morning shootaround. “If I break it tonight, I’ll be excited, but I don’t want to go out there and force anything. Be as aggressive as I usually am.
“It feels like a normal game, but I’m excited to reach this goal. I definitely want to accomplish it in front of my home fans.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell