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Preview: Quick turnaround for Hornets in Portland after thrilling late-night comeback

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Charlotte wraps up its West Coast trip in Portland, the Hornets’ first meeting with the Trail Blazers this season

Charlotte Hornets v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (16-17) at Portland Trail Blazers (18-14)

When: 10:30 pm EST

Where: Moda Center; Portland, Ore.

How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA TV

With PJ Washington coming off a career-best 42-point scoring output in a late-game comeback in Sacramento, the Charlotte Hornets look to pick up their second win in as many days against the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Trail Blazers have dropped four straight games coming off a six-game winning streak. Portland’s 115.8 defensive rating for the season is 27th in the NBA, but during this losing streak that number increases to 119.6. Their offense, which ranks seventh in the league, balances out their poor defense by being a top-10 3-point shooting team; Portland is second in makes (16) and attempts (42.1) from deep, and eighth in percentage (38.1).

That offense is carried by Damian Lillard, the third-leading scorer in the NBA at 29.8 per game. Lillard is eighth in assists per game at 8.0, second in total 3-pointers made with 129, and +15.9 offensive points per 100 possessions ranks in the 100th percentile among all players, per Cleaning The Glass. He’s thrust himself into the MVP conversation lately, and for good reason. Portland’s season rests entirely on Lillard’s shoulders, and he’s handled the burden well so far.

Portland is 10-9 since losing CJ McCollum to injury on Jan. 16, and Jusuf Nurkic fractured his right wrist just two days prior to that. Without them, head coach Terry Stots has relied heavily on role-players to replace their production. The biggest beneficiary of that has been Gary Trent Jr., who over the last 15 games is scoring 18.5 points per night while shooting 40 percent from long-range on 9.3 attempts as the team’s best perimeter defender.

Enes Kanter has been a double-double machine in Nurkic’s absence, recording 13 of them since Jan. 14, though he remains one of the poorest pick-and-roll defenders in the NBA. Portland’s defense improves by 1.7 points per 100 possessions when Kanter is off the floor (39th percentile per Cleaning The Glass), so it’s important to take advantage of his minutes and make him defend in space and corral the Hornets’ quick guards in screen actions.

Along with McCollum (left foot fracture) and Nurkic (right wrist fracture), Portland will be without Zach Collins (left ankle surgery) and Harry Giles (calf) tonight. Look for the Blazers to play small with Robert Covington at center when Kanter, their lone center, is sitting.

Washington had the best game of his young career against the Sacramento Kings last night; it was only a matter of time before his improved shooting and ball-handling resulted in an offensive explosion, he really hadn’t gotten hot like that all season. Hopefully, that can carry into tonight since Charlotte may need it coming off a hard-fought game last night.

NBA Central’s tweet says it all; Malik Monk is absolutely, undoubtedly, 100 percent #BACK. Monk is tied with Terry Rozier for 10th in the NBA in 3-point percentage (44 percent) among players that attempts at least three triples per game, and his 69.2 effective field goal percentage in the “clutch,” per Inpredictable, is the best on the team.

Gordon Hayward (right hand contusion) and Cody Zeller (left hip contusion) are both doubtful for tonight. Devonte’ Graham (left knee discomfort) will miss his sixth-straight game.

Another late game tonight—real late this time. 10:30 PM EST tip-offs should be illegal, and Adam Silver should be tried in the court of law for this heinous act (parody, not actionable), but we’re Hornets fans. We can tough it out... or we could set the game to DVR and watch in the morning with a nice breakfast and some coffee. Whatever floats your boat!