Charlotte Hornets without 4 starters; who starts now versus Los Angeles Lakers?
The Charlotte Hornets have lost two more starters -- center P.J. Washington and guard Terry Rozier -- for Tuesday’s game versus the Los Angeles Lakers.
Center-forward P.J. Washington (right ankle sprain) was ruled out following morning shootaround. Rozier (left knee tendinitis) was downgraded to out about 6:15 before the 8 p.m. tip-off at Spectrum Center.
Hornets coach James Borrego wouldn’t commit to who would start in place of Washington and Rozier, but he did narrow the candidates: Either Cody Zeller or Bismack Biyombo at center and one of the Martin twins -- Cody or Caleb -- at shooting guard.
The Hornets have now lost five key players in past 12 games. They were already without starters LaMelo Ball (fractured wrist), Gordon Hayward (sprained foot) and key reserve Malik Monk (sprained ankle).
While Monk is anticipated to be the first of those three players to return, Borrego acknowledged pre-game, “I have no idea when those guys are going to be back.”
The Lakers are also hurting from injuries, with superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis out.
Washington suffered that ankle sprain midway through the third quarter of Sunday’s home loss to the Atlanta Hawks. The injury was serious enough to keep him out of the rest of that game, but it appeared encouraging Monday when the Hornets listed Washington as probable for the Lakers.
Rozier’s injury isn’t considered serious, but the Hornets are playing three games in four nights, with another home game Wednesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Rozier averages a team-high 20.3 points and is having a career season. The Hornets are now without five of their top six scorers this season, representing 80.5 of the 1110.9 points they average this season.
The only one of the top six scorers available versus the Lakers is point guard Devonte Graham, and Borrego said Graham will get heavy usage Tuesday. Miles Bridges and Jalen McDaniels are expected to start at forwards, as they have of late.
Veteran guard Brad Wanamaker figures to play heavily off the bench Tuesday, as will whichever Martin twin doesn’t start. Borrego said rookies who don’t normally play -- including second-round big men Vernon Carey and Nick Richards -- could be pushed into the rotation.
“Whoever steps up tonight is going to get more minutes. There are going to be a number of guys who get opportunities tonight who may not have expected it,” Borrego said.
“At the start of the week, we never anticipated this type of rotation. But this is where we’re at.”