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Charlotte Hornets at Houston Rockets preview

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The Hornets travel to Houston for a New Year's Eve showdown with the Rockets.

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

When: 7:00 PM EST

Where: Toyota Center

TV: Fox Sports South, Comcast Sports Network, League Pass

It's a New Year's Eve showdown between the Rockets and the Hornets. The Rockets are one of the best teams in the NBA this season thanks to James Harden playing like an MVP and Dwight Howard looking like he did back in Orlando. Those two, mixed with high volume 3-point shooting, and free throws has led Houston to a 21-9 record on the year and the 4th best record in the Western Conference.

The Hornets meanwhile are injured and highly out matched, it's gonna take a perfect game and some luck if the Hornets are going to win. They will need to play near perfect defense and not allow Houston to kill them on the pick and roll. When the Rockets get their pick and roll game going it opens up a lot of opportunities for them in their offense, usually in the form of 3-point shooting. If Charlotte lets Houston fire away from 3-point range all night then it's going to get very ugly, very quickly.

Part of the difficulties for Charlotte tonight will be that they are missing big man Al Jefferson. An All NBA Center last year, Jefferson hasn't played to the level many Hornets fans were wanting last year but it's hard to deny how important he is to the team. Jefferson's ability down low forces teams to focus on him which opens up more opportunities for the Charlotte offense. Without him, Dwight Howard will be given free reign to terrify the paint instead of spending his time and energy guarding Big Al.

The chances of the Hornets winning tonight are slim but it's the NBA and anything can happen. Maybe the Hornets will end 2014 on a high note.