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Hornets take on Pistons in first game since All-Star break

We saw Frank dominate the Rising Stars challenge and Kemba put up valiant efforts in the 3-point contest and All-Star Game. Now, it’s back to the regular season.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been about a week since the Charlotte Hornets played a game worth anything and for those unfortunate enough to have long memories, about two weeks since the Hornets have won a game.

And for those of you with very long memories, it’s been over a month since the Hornets have strung together two consecutive wins. They’re 5-18 since Dec. 31.

But with nearly a week of rest for the majority of the roster and everyone sans Ramon Sessions healthy, the Hornets have an opportunity to mosey their way back up the Eastern Conference standings. They’re not out of the playoff race just yet, but their margin for error is tiny.

Wait, I lied. Cody Zeller is not expected to play tonight. Nor is Miles Plumlee.

The Hornets currently sit in the 11th spot in the East, just 2.5 games back of tonight’s opponent — the eighth-seeded Detroit Pistons. The Hornets are down in the season series, 2-1. So not great.

The NBA trade deadline is this afternoon, so it’s difficult to project what this game will look like. Both teams seem intent on making major moves if the right one presents itself. For the Hornets, I’d wager that only Kemba Walker is 100 percent safe from being traded.

Which isn’t to say the either team will make a major move, but I’d be shocked if both came out with the same rosters they had prior to the All-Star break.

It would be nice to see Cody Zeller back on the floor for the Hornets, as the team’s gone 2-15 in games he’s missed this season. The downside of a Cody return is that it would send Frank Kaminsky back to the bench. Kaminsky had a stellar stretch of games as the Hornets’ starting center prior to the All-Star break and carried that momentum through to the Rising Stars game, too, where he finished with 33 points in just 19 minutes.

So in a weird way, Zeller being out is bittersweet. Still, it’d be nice to have the whole squad back. It’s been a while.

There are only 26 games left in the Hornets’ season, and each one is crucial to their ability to make the playoffs in April. I feel bad for Rich Cho, who’s probably on the fence about blowing this thing up and tanking or doubling down to make the playoffs before the trade deadline. I do not envy him right now.

Tonight’s game marks the first game of a six-game road trip. The Hornets are 8-19 on the road this season, a far cry from last season’s mark of 18-23. Let’s pray the long break gave them some time to figure things out.

Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m.