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Preview: Depleted Hornets squad looks to clinch season series vs Knicks at Madison Square Garden

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Terry Rozier and Miles Bridges prepare to battle against All-Star Julius Randle and the New York Knicks

New York Knicks v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

HOW TO WATCH

Matchup: Charlotte Hornets (28-28) @ New York Knicks (31-27)

Time: 7:30 p.m. (EST)

Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.

Channel(s): Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

PREVIOUS MEETINGS

The Hornets took on the Knicks earlier this season on January 11, coming away with the 108-88 win. Both teams were obviously in very different places at the time in terms of rosters, but it was a solid win nonetheless. Gordon Hayward dropped 34 points and no one on the Knicks scored more than 19. Since then, the Hornets roster has been depleted and the Knicks have beefed up a bit.

INJURY REPORT

Despite the promising news yesterday, LaMelo Ball (wrist) still remains out for Charlotte. He is joined by Gordon Hayward (foot), Malik Monk (ankle), and Nate Darling (ankle) in that regard. Devonte’ Graham (quad) is listed as questionable after missing the last two games.

For New York, Alec Burks (COVID-19 protocols) will be out for tonight’s game. Mitchell Robinson (foot) also remains out after undergoing surgery on his broken foot earlier this season.

PLAYER STATS

Charlotte has been without Hayward and Ball for the last few weeks and during that time Terry Rozier and Miles Bridges have been left to carry the load. Both are averaging at least 20 points per game over that period at 22.9 and 20.0, respectively. Bridges has also been shooting the ball at a ridiculous clip over that timespan at 54.7% FG and 45.5% 3PT. Jalen McDaniels has also looked great, putting up 13.3 points per game over the stretch.

The Knicks are led by All-Star Julius Randle this year. He is putting up 23.7 points, 10.5 points, and 6.1 rebounds a game this season. RJ Barret is next up in the scoring column at 17.9, followed by six more guys averaging 10 or more points.

RECENT GAMES

The Hornets have gone 4-6 in their last ten games, including 3-5 without Hayward and Ball. They sit at an even 28-28 on the season which is good for eighth in the Eastern Conference.

New York has been hot lately, winning seven of their last ten games. They have won six in a row going into this game including tough wins over Dallas and New Orleans twice. The Knicks are 31-27 on the season and sit at sixth in the Eastern Conference.

KEYS TO THE GAME

The Knicks’ culture this season is built on defense. They are one of the best defensive teams in the league and win games by “ugly-ing them up.” Charlotte thrives in transition, so if they can get out and score before New York has a chance to set their defense, that is where the easy buckets will come.

New York, unlike the Hornets, is one of the worst passing teams in the league. They rank 29th in the NBA in assists per game. Slowing down Randle is no easy task, but if the Hornets can put a focus on him they would shut down a huge part of the Knicks’ offense.

Lastly, the energy has to be at an all-time high in this one. By taking this game Charlotte not only secures the season series against New York but climbs one game closer to them in the standings. A win tonight is crucial.