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Preview: Hornets start six game Western Conference road trip against Nuggets

The Hornets disappointing season has a chance to get much worse.

Denver Nuggets v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (7-22) at Denver Nuggets (17-11)

When: 8:00pm EST

Where: Ball Arena; Denver CO

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast; NBA League Pass

Outfitting: Hornets—Icon (teal), Nuggets—City (white)

The Hornets got arguably their two best players back from injury in each of the last two games. They still managed to lose to the former worst team in the NBA Pistons and get blown out by the Hawks in those two games. They now sit with the worst record in the NBA as they set off for their toughest road trip of the season.

That starts in Denver against a Nuggets team coming off a rather defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite the surprising loss, the Nuggets hold the three seed in the west behind the Grizzlies and Pelicans.

They are led by two-time reigning MVP Nikol Jokic, who leads the team in points (24.6), rebounds (10.3), assists (9.0), and steals (1.5) per game. He’s getting complemented more offensively than we’ve seen in recent seasons with strong play from Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon.

Jokic has struggled a bit from three this season, but his ability to play in the pick and pop is going to put a lot of stress on the Hornets drop coverages. Mason Plumlee and Nick Richards are likely going to struggle to get out to Jokic if he spots up. When he plays inside, Jokic isn’t unlike Joel Embiid, who destroyed the Hornets one week ago today. Elsewhere, Jamal Murray’s ability to consistently hit in the mid range will give the Hornets similar problems that they had with Trae Young and his floaters on Friday.

The Nuggets are without Michael Porter Jr., who has been out for about a month now with a heel injury. They’ll get additional scoring punch from Aaron Gordon, who is having the most efficient offensive season of his career. Bruce Brown and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope provide 3-and-D support while Bones Hyland packs a punch off the bench.

Former Hornet Ish Smith is on the roster and has snuck into a few games while playing for his 14th different team. Be on the lookout for some Eric Collins fun with that.