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The Charlotte Hornets are winning again and it doesn't seem possible

In the span of a week, Spencer Hawes and Troy Daniels have hit game winning 3-point shots in overtime. That alone should spell out just how crazy this current win streak has been.

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Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Quick heads up: this was written before the Charlotte Hornets and Utah Jazz played Thursday night, so by the time you read (or don't read) this, the Hornets will have won four straight, or three out of four. Either way, they're winning again.

And hey, what a concept. The Hornets were on track to be Wiz Khalifa after a Kanye Twitter rank, losing 9 out of 10 games, which included seven in a row. Many were just about write off another season of lost expectations, except the Hornets suddenly started winning games again, and are just one game under .500, and a game behind Indiana for 8th place in the Eastern Conference.

It's familiar territory for Charlotte -- the past three seasons have mirrored each other in various ways, one being that the Hornets always remained close enough to the playoff line that they couldn't be counted totally out. Maybe it took longer to accept the inevitable last season -- I can remember at one point using the "Charlotte has the exact same record through X many games as they did last season!" to suggest a playoff run was still very much in the picture, and I can now say with complete certainty that I was living in complete denial.

What's slightly different about this recent win streak is that they're winning despite a decimated roster. Exclude Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, since the Hornets were blowing up the East early in the season (who remembers 2nd place? *raises hand and shakes it furiously*), and the Hornets have been without several key players for long stretches. They even managed to survive the long-term loss of Al Jefferson, but then the list started growing. Nicolas Batum? Bad toe. Jeremy Lamb? Also, a bad toe. Cody Zeller? Strained shoulder. And in between all of this, Jeremy Lin has dealt with nagging injuries, and has overtaken Zeller for the Hornets player who has been smacked in the face the most.

Monday's starting frontcourt was Spencer Hawes and Marvin Williams, matched up against DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein. Everybody praises Boogie for dropping 56 (including me), but when it became clear just who would be defending him in the post, 56 became a virtual guarantee. No disrespect to either player, but that wasn't the starting frontcourt, and Tyler Hansbrough, for all his effort, wasn't stopping him either.

But who cares? They won! And that's whats amazing about this. The Hornets, reduced to ten healthy players, are winning without four starters (I'm counting Zeller in this since he's done well as the starting center in place of Al) and a key reserve. Sure, the three wins have come against teams with losing records, but they all were higher in the standings in either conference than Charlotte, and none were dealing with the level of injury problems Charlotte has been. Charlotte turned around a 19 point deficit against the Magic with a five man rotation that included Hawes, Troy Daniels, and Brian Roberts. That shouldn't have happened. And scoff all you want at beating New York and Orlando, but those wins could mean more once the season comes to an end and all three are still in the thick of the playoff race.

Aside from sheer determination, which sadly, cannot be analytically equated, the Hornets are winning because their offense has kicked back into gear again. This is surprising given how many key offensive players are missing, but for the month of January, the Hornets are averaging 105.2 points per game, three points higher than their season average. This starts with Walker, obviously, but other Hornets are stepping up as well. Daniels is the most recent example -- his 28 points against the Kings, including the game winner in double overtime, capped off what has been a coming out party. 9.4 points per game for January doesn't sound like a whole lot, but Daniels has been shooting very efficiently, with a 50.7 percent field goal percentage, and a 3-point percentage of 53.3. Daniels has become instant offense off the bench, but he's also played well enough on both ends to keep him on the floor. Others -- like Lin, who is averaging a season best 14.6 points in January, are helping as well.

This three game win streak has been all sorts of crazy. Beyond Walker single-handedly torching defenses, the unlikeliest of players have stepped up when the Hornets have needed a bucket. It's common knowledge amongst fans that the Hornets don't score off an inbound play with the game on the line, yet Daniels hit a 30-footer, and despite what has been an overall dismal season shooting the ball, Spencer Hawes knocked down a go-ahead 3-pointer against the Magic in overtime. These are plays that had almost zero probability of happening this season, and yet both have.

The Hornets still aren't healthy, and there's a strong chance their recent level of play is unsustainable. However, their offense has been re-ignited, and their confidence is back. If they can ride into the All-Star break with a few more wins and a bit of momentum, they'll have put themselves in a great position after the break once they have a healthy roster again.


Disclaimer: Even though this is a sponsored post with affiliate links, all of the opinions in this post are my own. And as an FYI, FanDuel provided me funds to play its daily fantasy games.

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