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Preview: Hornets meet Heat again, look to snap losing streak

Charlotte’s due for a win.

Charlotte Hornets v Miami Heat Photo by Lauren Sopourn/Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (3-10) at Miami Heat (5-7)

When: 8:00 pm EST

Where: FTX Arena; Miami, Fla.

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

Outfitting: Hornets — Icon (teal); Heat — City (white)

Injury report:

CHA: LaMelo Ball (left ankle sprain), QUESTIONABLE; Gordon Hayward (left shoulder contusion), OUT; Cody Martin (left knee surgery), OUT; Dennis Smith Jr. (left ankle sprain), QUESTIONABLE.

MIA: Tyler Herro (ankle), OUT; Victor Oladipo (knee), OUT; Ömer Yurtseven (knee), OUT.

The Charlotte Hornets finish off a two-game set with the Miami Heat with the hopes of ending a seven-game losing skid.

EDIT: A few hours after the preview for tonight’s game was published, LaMelo Ball was upgraded to questionable. It’s not a guarantee he plays, but the fact that the team felt comfortable upgrading his status has to be a positive sign. Disregard the references throughout the preview that imply Melo is out tonight.

The Hornets have yet to play a game this season with a fully healthy roster, and the injury bug is really starting to rear it’s ugly head. A 1-9 stretch in the last 10 games, some of which has come without Gordon Hayward or Terry Rozier and all of which has come without LaMelo Ball and Cody Martin.

The last four games have all been close, hard-fought losses that emphasized how small the team’s margin for error will be until they’re at full strength. In each game except against Washington, the opposing team’s superstar — whether it be Jimmy Butler, Kevin Durant or Damian Lillard — left their mark on the game in crunch time. The Hornets simply do not have a player of that caliber to throw counterpunches down the stretch with Ball sidelined.

Hopefully, Dennis Smith Jr. didn’t tweak his ankle too badly against the Heat on Thursday and will be available tonight, otherwise the starting lineup will likely be Rozier-Kelly Oubre Jr.-Jalen McDaniels-PJ Washington-Mason Plumlee with James Bouknight and Théo Maledon receiving an uptick in minutes.

For what it’s worth, the Hornets are still top-10 in assist percentage (8th, 63.8 percent). The core offensive tenets of ball movement and quick decision-making are still present in spite of the roster deficiencies, to the credit of the players, Steve Clifford and his staff. The shots just aren’t falling often enough to reward them.

For a team with aspirations of a deep playoff run, Miami has not looked good to start the year. If not for a classic Jimmy Butler performance last time out, the Hornets would’ve snapped their own losing streak while putting the Heat four games below the .500 mark. The Heat have also been mostly healthy so far this year and only have two more wins than the Hornets to show for it. Perspective.