CHARLOTTE – A look at four key numbers related to Saturday’s game at Spectrum Center between New Orleans and Charlotte (6 p.m. Central, Fox Sports New Orleans, ESPN Radio New Orleans 100.3 FM):
5: Different starting lineups already this season for New Orleans, a number that will automatically increase to six Saturday, because point guard Lonzo Ball (right adductor strain) has been ruled out of action vs. the Hornets due to injury. Ball has started all eight previous games, joined every game only by three-year NBA teammate Brandon Ingram. The club’s most common starting five of Ball, Jrue Holiday, Ingram, Nicolo Melli and Jahlil Okafor has sported a record of 1-2. The only other multi-game first unit is Ball, Holiday, Ingram, JJ Redick and Derrick Favors, at 0-2. With Ball sidelined and inactive for Saturday’s game, the Pelicans called up point guard Josh Gray this morning from Erie in the G League.
8: Players on the 15-man rosters for both New Orleans and Charlotte who have three years or less of experience in the NBA. Among the Pelicans’ top eight players in minutes per game this season, two (Ball, Josh Hart) are in their third pro season, while Frank Jackson and Kenrich Williams are early in their second campaigns. Charlotte’s group of primary contributors is filled with even more inexperience: Miles Bridges is the club’s leader in minutes, despite only being a second-year pro. PJ Washington (third in minutes) is a rookie, while Devonte’ Graham and Dwayne Bacon are in their second and third NBA seasons, respectively. Due to injury and rotation changes, Charlotte has only received a total of 21 minutes from veterans Nicolas Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
2: Times in its last three games that Charlotte has shot below 20 percent from three-point range (17 percent at Golden State; 19 percent vs. Boston), part of an exceptionally streaky start to the season. The Hornets broke a franchise record in their season opener by connecting on 23 three-pointers in a dramatic victory over Chicago, and also went 16/32 from deep to spark an Oct. 30 triumph at Sacramento. By comparison, New Orleans had shot at least 32 percent from the arc in each of its first seven games, but that run came to an end Friday vs. Toronto, when the Pelicans were a season-worst 24 percent in that category, going 10/41. New Orleans has gone over 40 percent on threes in three separate games, but the only one that resulted in a win was a season-best 15/33 outing (46 percent) vs. Denver on Halloween.
3: New Orleans winning streak on Charlotte’s home floor, part of a 5-1 head-to-head record for the Pelicans against the Hornets since the 2016-17 campaign. Charlotte was the site for one of the best offensive games of Holiday’s career; the guard racked up 38 points on 13/23 shooting (including going 5/9 on treys) on March 9, 2016. Holiday also connected on over 50 percent of his shot attempts in each of the past two trips to North Carolina. The Pelicans could use an aggressive game from Holiday and his teammates Saturday, partly because arguably the team’s biggest drop-off so far in home vs. road performance has been displayed in free-throw differential. In four home games, the Pelicans are averaging 15.5 free throws, but allowing 14.8, but on the road in four games that margin is a negative 6.5 (NOLA 18.0 free throws taken, compared to 24.5 by hosts).