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Preview: Crashing the boards will be key for the Hornets to ground the Rockets

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Charlotte looks to get to within striking distance of a .500 record as they host a Houston team that’s missing its best player in Christian Wood

Charlotte Hornets v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (11-13) versus Houston Rockets (11-11)

When: 7:00 pm EST

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC

How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

Houston Rockets overview

The Houston Rockets look very different than they did last season. During free agency Houston signed Christian Wood, an emerging young big who many Hornets fans wanted Charlotte to sign. In December Russell Westbrook was traded to the Washington Wizards for the oft-injured John Wall. Then in January, Houston traded notorious iso-ball foul-hunter James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets in a deal that netted them a million draft picks/swaps, Victor Oladipo, and a couple of other players.

Surrounded by so much turmoil it looked entering the season like the Rockets were ready to start rebuilding (read: losing) and their 4-9 record reflected that. But shortly after Harden was shown the door something magical happened and the Rockets ripped off six consecutive wins to get to 10-9. Now sitting at 11-11, Houston is a team the Hornets can beat at home (ESPN’s matchup predictor gives Charlotte a 55 percent chance of winning) but it’s going to be tough.

Unfortunately for Houston, Christian Wood, who has been phenomenal averaging 22 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks this year, suffered a major ankle sprain on Feb 4th so he won’t be playing tonight.

The Rockets will rely heavily on their guard trio of Victor Oladipo (19.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 5.1 APG), John Wall (18.8 PPG, 6.0 APG), and Eric Gordon (18.4 PPG). DeMarcus Cousins will get significant minutes down low in Wood’s absence while pesky but professional PJ Tucker will play smart defense and hit some 3s.

How the Hornets can win

While the Hornets aren’t a great rebounding team (18th in rebounding percentage) they are better than the Rockets (26th), and that’s before Houston lost their leading rebounder in Christian Wood. If there was ever a game when Charlotte can control the boards, generate some second chance points, and get buckets in transition, this is it. In the Hornets victory over the Wizards yesterday, Charlotte had a 59-48 rebounding advantage, including 18 offensive boards. Miles Bridges was sensational with 14 rebounds in that one. If Cody Zeller can just get a body on Demarcus Cousins, there should be ample opportunity for Miles and PJ Washington to control the boards.

The Hornets are currently sitting at the No. 7 seed in the East. Wins against solid but beatable teams like the Houston Rockets go a long way in securing the No. 6 seed and an automatic playoff berth. Let’s see if they can pick up a good win tonight.

Poll

What do you predict from tonight’s game?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Hornets win easy
    (16 votes)
  • 73%
    Hornets win a close one
    (87 votes)
  • 9%
    Rockets win a close one
    (11 votes)
  • 4%
    Rockets win easy
    (5 votes)
119 votes total Vote Now