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Preview: Hornets sans Miles Bridges and PJ Washington return home to face Rockets

The Hornets should be fresh from the holidays as they prepare to play the next week or two without their top two power forwards.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

What: Charlotte Hornets (17-17) vs Houston Rockets (10-23)

When: 7:00 pm EST

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

Just when it looked like things were looking up for the Hornets, covid had to make its second pass through the locker room and take out more of the roster. Miles Bridges and PJ Washington have entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, joining Cody Martin. That leaves the Hornets with neither of their preferred fours and the team’s best defender.

In their absence, Jalen McDaniels will probably man the four spot as much as possible while Kelly Oubre and Gordon Hayward will soak up some minutes in smaller lineup iterations while. JT Thor is a candidate to get some burn off the bench as well.

This lineup permutation will get its first test tonight against a Rockets team that upset this group in their last meeting. However, that Rockets victory proved to be part of a hot run of play for Stephen Silas’s group. The Rockets currently aren’t riding a wave like that. They’ve lost five of their last six with the one win coming against the lowly Pistons.

They’re dealing with player absences of their own. DJ Augustin and Garrison Mathews (who was a big player in the Rockets win in the first meeting) are both out for covid reasons. Kevin Porter has been sidelined with a thigh injury and is currently listed as questionable. Jalen Green, who just came back from the hamstring injury that kept him out of the first meeting, is also currently listed as questionable, but I’d expect him to play given he’s had four days rest since his last outing.

The Hornets will have Christian Wood highlighted in the scouting report. He led the game with 33 points and 16 rebounds. The Rockets outscored the Hornets by 16 points with Wood on the floor. The Hornets have struggled with capable centers all season, and Wood’s combination of size, activity, and skill is a nightmare match-up for the Hornets. He’s going to get his. The winner of this game will be determined by how well the Hornets contain the cast around Wood. If Green and Porter can’t play, that shouldn’t be too tough. The presence of one or both of those guards will give the Hornets more to think about.

It’s an entirely winnable game for the Hornets even with the covid absences. It’s a good chance for them to keep the momentum rolling after they ended their Western Conference road swing with a comeback win over the Nuggets.