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Hornets look to upset Blazers in second game of back-to-back

After a tough loss to Miami, the Hornets are right back at it against a tough Blazers team Saturday night.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Charlotte Hornets Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

What: Portland Trail Blazers (15-13) vs. Charlotte Hornets (10-18)

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC

When: 7:00 p.m. EST

How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast; NBA League Pass

The Charlotte Hornets will be looking to get back on the winning track on Saturday night when they play host to the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Hornets have lost nine of their last 11 games including a 104-98 defeat at the hands of the Miami Heat on Friday night. Charlotte was led by Kemba Walker, who scored 25 points, and Dwight Howard, who registered 15 points and 16 rebounds.

A troubling trend for Charlotte continued on Friday night as the Hornets allowed the Heat to shoot 50 percent from the field. Seven Miami players scored in double figures, and all nine players that saw the court on Friday scored at least eight points.

Defense has been the Hornets’ calling card since Steve Clifford was hired back in 2013, but the team has struggled mightily on the defensive end in 2017. Charlotte is allowing opponents to score 106.6 points per game which is 20th in the NBA. While Buzz City is holding opponents to a respectable 45.3 percent from the field, teams are knocking down 11 3-pointers per game against them.

The Blazers arrive in the Queen City with a 15-13 record and have won two consecutive games after dropping five games in a row.

On Friday night, Portland took down the Orlando Magic on the road, 95-88. The Blazers were lead by Damian Lillard, who scored 21 points, and C.J. McCollum, who added 20. The game also saw the return of big man Jusuf Nurkic who returned from an ankle injury that forced him to miss three games. Nurkic registered 9 points and 11 rebounds in 25 minutes in his return to action.

While most of the media attention centers around the Blazers’ backcourt combo of McCollum and Lillard, the team’s strength this season has been its defense. Portland is holding opponents to 100.9 points per game and 44.6 percent shooting from the field, which are both good for fifth in the league. The Blazers also force teams off the 3-point line as they allow only 25.2 3-point attempts per game which is only behind Miami for the least amount in the league.

The two big individual matchups in this game to watch will be Dwight Howard against Jusuf Nurkic and Kemba Walker versus Damian Lillard. If Charlotte are going to win this game at home, Kemba and Dwight have to win those two matchups.