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Hornets aim to even season series with Pacers

Game 1 in Indiana slipped away from Charlotte late. This time around, the Hornets try to protect homecourt.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

What: Indiana Pacers (29-23) vs. Charlotte Hornets (21-29)

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC

When: 7:00 p.m. EST

How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

Last Monday night, the Charlotte Hornets took on the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. It was a close game up until the end when Indiana started to impose their will late, coming away with a 105-96 win. Now, nearly a week later, the Hornets try to return the favor.

The Hornets are home again in the Spectrum Center after a 123-point scoring explosion against the Hawks thanks in large part to Kemba Walker’s franchise-record nine 3-pointers. But the competition gets stiffer Friday night, and Charlotte hasn’t fared well against playoff-caliber teams this season.

The aforementioned Pacers are on a roll. Winners of five of their last six, Indiana’s sitting at 29-23, only two games back of Cleveland for third place in the Eastern Conference. To be frank, the Pacers weren’t expected to be this good. After trading away Paul George, it was assumed Indiana would go in the tank and try their hand at snagging a high draft pick in the upcoming lottery. Only Indiana and Victor Oladipo had different intentions.

Oladipo, now in his fifth season, has seen his career take off in Indiana, scoring and shooting at new personal-bests. His 23 points, and 48/39/80 percent shooting numbers earned him his very first All-Star game selection. Oladipo’s thoroughly replaced Paul George and at times has outperformed the man he was dealt to Indiana for.

Oladipo isn’t solely responsible for Indiana’s emergence. Domantas Sabonis, the other piece used by Oklahoma City to acquire George, is scoring about 13 points a game coming off the bench. Thaddeus Young, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Darren Collison are each scoring about 12 points; while Myles Turner’s within decimal points of averaging 14 points and seven rebounds. Turner’s not rebounding as well as you’d wish your 21-year-old center would, and that’s partially why Indiana ranks 23rd in the entire league in rebounding. Look for Dwight Howard, who had 22 points and 11 rebounds against Turner Monday night, to have a similar type of game Friday night.

Hopefully Walker’s record setting night on Wednesday gives the Hornets some momentum as they look to gain on the Philadelphia 76ers, who are 8th in the Eastern Conference.