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Hornets need win against Pelicans to keep momentum

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Still just 2.5 games out of the playoffs with 17 games left in the season, the Hornets hope to snag a win against the Pelicans on the second night of a back-to-back.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at New Orleans Pelicans Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets take on the New Orleans Pelicans at home on the second night of a back-to-back after a commanding 121-81 win against the Orlando Magic last night.

Because of the nature of last night’s win, the Hornets’ key players are, for the most part, well rested. Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller were the only players to log more than 30 minutes last night.

And that’ll come in handy against the Pelicans.

Don’t get me wrong, the Pelicans are 2-6 since acquiring DeMarcus Cousins at the trade deadline. That’s of no fault of Cousins, who’s been stellar since moving to the Big Easy. It’s no fault of Anthony Davis or Jrue Holiday, either.

It’s the rest of their roster that’s, shall we say, not great.

To those watching the team, however, it’s clear that it’s just a matter of time until they figure out how to most effectively play together.

But that will take time. In the present, the Hornets shouldn’t have much trouble deposing the Pelicans if their own bench puts in a good effort. That, or head coach Steve Clifford elects to play the Hornets’ starters 40 minutes.

For all of their struggles this season, the Hornets have been decent at home with a record of 18-13 at Spectrum Center. And the Pelicans, well, they’ve been horrid on the road. They’re 10-22 away from home on the season.

It goes without saying, but if the playoffs are the Hornets’ goal this season — which they obviously still are — then a game like this is one they must win. They’re still just 2.5 games out the playoff race. This is doable.

But they’ll have to fight. Their margin for error hardly registers on the retina.

I mean, can Zeller handle Cousins’ power and athleticism? Can Marvin prevent Davis from eating inside? Heck, will Batum’s aggression in recent first quarters prove to be a trend?

They need a lot of things to go right for them to pull this off especially since Frank Kaminsky, Ramon Sessions, Miles Plumlee, and Johnny O’Bryant continue to miss time with their respective injuries.

This is a good test for the Hornets. Second night of a back-to-back, at home, with everyone relatively rested and playing well? They’ve gotta do it.

Tip-off is at 7 p.m.