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Hornets vs Raptors preview

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The Hornets hope to extend their winning streak to four as they take on the middling Raptors in Charlotte.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC

How: Fox Sports South

The Charlotte Hornets (26-33) are at home tonight taking on the middling Toronto Raptors (38-23), where they hope to extend their three-game winning streak to four.

With many key players back in the fold, the Hornets are on a bit of a roll. Admittedly, their last three opponents haven't been particularly good (with exception to the Brooklyn Nets, somewhat). Only Kemba Walker remains out, and he was cleared for basketball activities a couple of days ago. Mo Williams has filled in admirably in his absence.

And the Hornets have been tough to beat when they're heatlhy.

The Raptors started this season quite hot, but have since tapered off a bit. Strangely, the Raptors' great play was halted by an injury to DeMar DeRozan – who's since returned – and they've yet to get back to the level of play that had them leading the Eastern Conference early in the season.

They're a pedestrian 14-16 over their last 30 games.

This game is certainly winnable for the Hornets. The Raptors' front line is decent, but not as good as the Hornets' quartet of Al Jefferson, Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo, and Marvin Williams. Jonas Valanciunas should be good, but he's far too inconsistent, especially on the defensive end. That's a big reason for the Raptors' drop-off in defensive efficiency from last season.

Where this game will be most interesting, however, is in the backcourt. The Raptors sport a dynamic duo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, both of whom are devastating offensive threats. Lowry's been out for a while, but Raptors beat writers expect him to return to action tonight. Can Mo Williams and Gerald Henderson contain them? It's hard to say, but it certainly won't be easy.

The Raptors are prone to episodes of offensive dominance, and a single big run could put this game out of reach for the Hornets. However, when their offense isn't clicking, the Raptors are easily beaten. It will be interesting to see how the Hornets' great defense in 2015 matches up with the Raptors' terrific offense.