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Preview: Hornets hit the road again to take on league worst Rockets

The Hornets start a three game central time road trip with a winnable game.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (13-8) at Houston Rockets (2-16)

When: 8:00 pm EST

Where: Toyota Center; Houston, TX

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

The Hornets are coming off arguably their best performance of the season. They tied a franchise record with 23 made 3-pointers on their way to a comfortable 18-point victory over a Timberwolves team that came into the game winners of five straight.

Tonight’s opponent comes in riding their own good vibes. The Rockets are on what is tied for their longest win streak of the season—one game. They upset the Bulls on Wednesday, which snapped a 15-game losing skid. But the win did not come without a cost. Their top rookie, Jalen Green, injured his hamstring in the contest and will miss tonight’s game because of it.

Without Green, the Rockets top two scorers are veterans Christian Wood and Eric Gordon, though both are averaging under 16 points per game. No one else has been particularly productive. Kevin Porter Jr. hasn’t been able to recapture the magic of last season’s breakout. Jae’Sean Tate has been decent for a second year undrafted player (though he is 26). Rookie Alperen Sengun has been productive on a per-minute basis but hasn’t been getting many minutes. Former Bobcat great DJ Augustin is there.

The Rockets, being the rebuilding team that they are, could play any combination of players on any given night. 13 players have played in at least 11 games. We’ll see a lot of different names out there on the floor.

The Rockets have the least efficient offense in the league, and their 98.1 offensive rating is the only one in the league that is under 100. They don’t share the ball particularly well and they turn it over more than anyone else in the league. They’ve made just 31.8% of their 3-point attempts to this point of the season; only the Pistons and Thunder are worse.

They will attempt to get to the rim, so PJ Washington, Nick Richards, and Miles Brdiges need to be ready to protect it. 41.3% of the Rockets field goal attempts come at the basket, the highest percentage in the league. They don’t finish well and get their shots blocked more often than almost anyone else, but they try, and the Hornets have been somewhat susceptible to easy buckets around the rim from their opponents when they’re not locked in.

The Hornets should strive to hold the Rockets under 100 points tonight. The offense should be able to take care of itself in that scenario, especially considering that a strong defensive showing should result in a number of Rockets turnovers and easy transition baskets.