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Preview: Hornets have a chance to sweep season series versus Kings

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Remember what happened last time the Hornets played the Kings? That was fun!

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Sacramento Kings Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

What: Charlotte Hornets (19-18) vs Sacramento Kings (15-23)

When: 7:00 PM EST

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, N.C.

How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

The Charlotte Hornets look to take the season series from the Sacramento Kings this evening following a 42-point outburst from PJ Washington and some late-game heroics from Malik Monk in their first meeting just prior to the All-Star break.

The Kings are 2-2 since they last saw the Bugs, and they’re fifth in the NBA in offensive rating over that stretch. Boasting the league’s ninth-ranked offense on the season, Sacramento makes a living getting to the basket. They shoot 53 percent on drives (third in NBA per NBA.com/stats), thanks in large part to De’Aaron Fox shooting 69 percent at the rim (98th percentile among guards) and attempting 32 percent of his shots in that area, per Cleaning The Glass.

Having missed the first matchup with a sore right calf, Tyrese Haliburton will finally face off against the man he will finish as runner-up to in Rookie of the Year voting, LaMelo Ball (sorry Tyrese, I had to). Here’s a stat comparison of the two via basketball-reference.com:

Obviously, both are very good players with bright, long futures in the league. LaMelo has effectively ran away with the award since he became a starter, but Haliburton’s true shooting percentage (60.7) is higher than LaMelo’s (56.5) and he’s more efficient across the board. Only one of the two is the star of his team, however.

Richaun Holmes deserves a mention here, if only because he’s a potential trade option for the Hornets in the 10 days left before the deadline. Holmes makes a smidge over $5M this season and his positional defense, rim protection, rebounding on both ends and pick-and-roll finishing are exactly what the Hornets need in their center rotation to have a shot at competing in the playoffs. His 65.7 eFG percentage ranks in the 92nd percentile among bigs (per Cleaning The Glass) and he’s productive in short-roll settings.

Chimeze Metu (wrist) and Hassan Whiteside (health and safety protocols) are out tonight for the Kings. Robert Woodard II (hamstring) is day-to-day.

Want to read a fun stat? Over the last two weeks, only the Philadelphia 76ers (+23.5) rank higher than the Hornets (+11.2) in point differential per Cleaning The Glass. Never mind that those numbers are inflated by playing far fewer games in two weeks because of the All-Star break and they both happened to blow a team out recently (Sixers beat Spurs 134-99 last night). The fact of the matter is this; over the last two weeks the Hornets are the second-best team in the NBA.

The Hornets are on a three-game win-streak right now, and a victory tonight would tie their longest streak of the season from Jan. 6 to Jan. 11. It would be nice to take one against a team that should end up near the top of the draft lottery before heading out for a tough West Coast trip that begins in Denver on Wednesday.