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Hornets return from extended layoff to face the Thunder

The Hornets had a rare four day break between games, which gave their standout rookie time to recover from his injury.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Chicago Bulls David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

What: Charlotte Hornets (13-20) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (15-15)

When: 7:00 pm EST

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC

How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

The Hornets have one very distinct advantage tonight—rest. They haven’t played since Sunday evening in Boston. The Thunder, on the other hand, played in Oklahoma City last night. It’s rare for NBA teams to facing off with such a vast discrepancy in rest time.

That doesn’t make this an easy win for the Hornets. For one, easy games for this team don’t exist. Also, the Thunder are actually good. They weren’t expected to be after they shipped off their two best players for youth and draft capital, but the veterans that came as salary filler have kept the ship afloat.

One of those veterans won’t be on the floor tonight. Danilo Gallinari is dealing with ankle soreness and is out for the next few days. He’s the team’s biggest three point threat and only real impact player they have on the wing. Chris Paul is playing, and he’s doing what he’s always done while being very annoying all the time. His assists have taken a dip, but that’s not surprising considering that he spends a significant amount of time paired up with Dennis Schroder and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Gilgeous-Alexander was the big get among the players the Thunder received in return for Paul George and Russell Westbrook. He’s made good on that promise. He’s averaging a team high 19.1 points per game with decent efficiency that’s buoyed by his ability to draw fouls and hit free throws. However the Thunder have been significantly better defensively with Schroder on the floor, which is curious given Gilgeous-Alexander’s reputation coming into the league.

The Thunder may be without Schroder tonight as well. He’s listed as questionable with ankle soreness, just like Gallinari. I feel like we never see ‘ankle soreness’ as an NBA injury, but the Thunder apparently have two players with the ailment.

On the Hornets side, they’ll get a big boost tonight in the form of PJ Washington. The standout rookie has missed the last five games with the apparently contagious broken finger that’s sweeping the NBA. That likely means the end of Cody Zeller/Bismack Biyombo pairings and adds a little more excitement to the Hornets lineup, as if they needed it.