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Hornets look to start 2017 with a win against Bulls

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Charlotte hopes to start the New Year on a high note with a win against the Bulls in the Windy City.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Happy New Year!

The Charlotte Hornets finished 2016 with a record of 19-15 in what was a rocky but decent start to their season. Injuries slowed the Hornets early on, but that’s no excuse anymore. The team is 5-5 over its last 10 games and just about everyone’s been healthy.

Tonight, the Hornets take on the Chicago Bulls in Illinois. The Bulls finished last year with a record of 16-18, a testament to the team lacking an identity and treading water. The Rajon Rondo+Dwyane Wade+Jimmy Butler experiment is working better than expected but it’s clear it’s not a longterm solution.

The Hornets beat the Bulls back on Dec. 23, 103-91. You might remember that game for Nicolas Batum‘s triple-double, but what sticks out for me happened in the final minutes of the game.

Robin Lopez was checked with a flagrant two with less than a minute left in the game. That led to Taj Gibson going off, garnering him a couple of technical fouls and a subsequent ejection of his own.

The Bulls are dysfunctional, but they’re definitely a passionate bunch.

Tonight, the Hornets are likely without Marco Belinelli once more. Belinelli’s offensive savvy and sharpshooting were a welcome addition to the Hornets’ second unit, which tends to struggle when it comes to scoring the basketball. The Hornets’ offense has been poor without Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum lately, so hopefully Belinelli is ready to go soon.

The Bulls are perfectly healthy.

The Hornets match up extremely well with Bulls, and this should be a tight game. If Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can hold Butler to fewer than 25 points and if Batum’s offense is still good, the Hornets should be able to pull out a win and start 2017 on a high note.