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Hornets search for win against new-look Raptors in Toronto

The Charlotte Hornets desperately need a win, while Toronto seeks validation for the trade they made for Serge Ibaka.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Orlando Magic Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets are in a free fall, one no one saw coming and seemingly no one knows how to stop. Losers of 10 of their last 11 (and 15 of their last 19) not only are the Hornets not going to host a playoff series, but they may miss the playoffs entirely. All-Star Kemba Walker has put this team on his back all season, but lately that has not been enough.

Wednesday night they will play their final game before the All-Star break, crossing the border into Canada to face the Raptors. Toronto is in the midst of a tough stretch themselves, losing 11 of their last 15 to fall from second in the East to a tie for fifth.

Toronto is the latest team to leap into the trade deadline fray, sending out Terrance Ross and a first-round pick to the Orlando magic for Serge Ibaka. With Patrick Patterson nursing a knee injury, the Raptors are hoping Ibaka clears his physical and can suit up Wednesday night. Long-term, they are hoping his defensive versatility returns and he can provide a boon at both ends of the court.

Charlotte has already shot its bullets this trade season, flipping centers Roy Hibbert and Spencer Hawes for Miles Plumlee. 10-day contracts for Ray McCallum and Mike Tobey provide interesting looks at reserves, but they won’t be enough to cure what ails this team.

Head coach Steve Clifford and GM Rich Cho will have the entire All-Star break to think of something, be that trade or a change in the rotation. What this team needs most of all is Cody Zeller to return, as this team seems broken without him and competent - perhaps more - when he suits up.

Wednesday both Zeller and Plumlee will be out, so in some way those rotation changes will be accelerated. Can Mike Tobey translate D-League success into production as he slots in behind Frank Kaminsky as the backup? Which team pulls out of its slump to get a final win before the break?

Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time, when all of those questions will be answered. Keep plugged in here and on Twitter throughout the game and after for updates and analysis.