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Preview: Hornets round out four-game road trip in matchup with Raptors

Not exactly a “back-to-back”, but still a back-to-back, technically.

Charlotte Hornets v Toronto Raptors Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (11-31) at Toronto Raptors (18-23)

When: 7:30 PM EST

Where: Scotiabank Arena; Toronto, Ontario.

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

Outfitting: Hornets — Icon (teal); Raptors — Statement (black)

Injury report

CHA: Gordon Hayward (hamstring soreness), DOUBTFUL; Kelly Oubre Jr. (hand sprain), OUT.

TOR: Otto Porter (foot surgery), OUT.

The Charlotte Hornets have a chance to get themselves back in the win column against the Toronto Raptors after dropping five of the last six games and seven of the last 10.

The Jan. 10 meeting between these two squads was the first of the season, with the Raptors claiming a 132-120 victory by outscoring the Hornets 36-26 in the fourth quarter. Pascal Siakam put up 28 points, eight board and seven assists but Terry Rozier scored a game-high 33 points and LaMelo Ball had 24 and 14 assists, a season-high for him. The formula is there for Charlotte to beat Toronto: they successfully hunted quality shots at the rim and from deep, hitting them at a 54.7 percent clip.

The only problem is that they got bullied on the glass, conceding a 49-34 rebounding advantage to the Raptors and allowing 18 offensive boards. On the season, the Hornets rank 21st in rebounding percentage (49.4) while Toronto ranks 29th (46.4). It shouldn’t be an issue again tonight as long as the Hornets bring their standard level of effort and energy on the boards.

In exciting news, the Hornets are only 0.1 points behind 29th place in offensive rating! Another solid scoring performance or two should give Charlotte the edge over Houston and get them out of the bottom of the cellar. It’s not surprising that a team employing Ball has improved offensively, but even in the 15 games he’s played since his second return, the Hornets are only 26th in offense. A key to the improvement; the rising efficiency of Rozier. He shot just 28.6 percent and 31.9 in each of the last two months but is up to 39.6 percent on 9.6 attempts per game in five appearances in January, with all but one of those games being a 20-plus point output. Rozier seems to be quickly regaining form as one of the NBA’s elite off-ball shooters.

Salvaging a .500 record on a tough four-game road trip would be commendable given Gordon Hayward and Kelly Oubre Jr.’s absences. Let’s see how it goes.