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Zeller and Hairston out, Lin to start against Philadelphia 76ers

A few Hornets are dealing with some injuries, and a new face steps into the starting lineup.

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte Hornets' center Cody Zeller is officially out for tonight's game against the Philadelphia 76ers, according to head coach Steve Clifford. Forward P.J. Hairston will also sit tonight's game out.

Zeller has been battling a sprain in his left ankle for a couple of weeks now, and it's had an effect on his play. Zeller's averaged 6.6 points and 5.2 rebounds in 20.7 minutes over his last five games while shooting 41.7 percent from the field. Let's hope this is precautionary and not a sign his ankle's getting worse.

Hairston will miss his third straight game as he deals with a quadriceps contusion he suffered in early November. He was initially replaced by Zeller in the starting lineup. Now, Clifford will start Lin as Zeller recovers from his own injury.

This will be Lin's first start of the season for the Hornets. He's averaged 10.4 points, 2.8 assists, and 1.8 turnovers in 23 minutes per game over his last five games, and is a major reason the Hornets' bench has outplayed opposing reserves.

With exception to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's season-ending injury in preseason, the Hornets have been mostly healthy this season. With three of their better players out, Lin's start could further limit the Hornets' depth if Clifford doesn't manage his rotations well tonight. Keep an eye on that.

With all of these changes, Nicolas Batum will play small forward tonight. That leaves the Hornets with a starting lineup of Kemba Walker, Lin, Batum, Marvin Williams, and Al Jefferson.

Tonight's game tips of at 7 p.m.