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Preview: Hayward probable to return as Hornets visit Hawks

Meanwhile, Ball and Martin are doubtful to play tonight.

Charlotte Hornets v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (12-34) at Atlanta Hawks (24-22)

When: 7:30 PM EST

Where: State Farm Arena; Atlanta, Ga.

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

Outfitting: Hornets — City (granite); Hawks — Icon (red)

Injury report

ATL: Bogdan Bogdanović (knee), OUT.

CHA: LaMelo Ball (ankle, wrist soreness), DOUBTFUL; Gordon Hayward (hamstring soreness), PROBABLE; Cody Martin (knee soreness), DOUBTFUL; Kelly Oubre Jr. (hand surgery), OUT.

The Charlotte Hornets travel to face the Atlanta Hawks, winners of five-straight, coming off a streak-snapping victory over the Houston Rockets in which LaMelo Ball went down with another ankle injury.

Charlotte Hornets PR issued a statement detailing Ball’s yesterday and then followed up with a correction this morning.

Ball’s status in future games is unclear based off that tweet, but all signs point to him sitting out tonight. It is the same wrist that he fractured his rookie season, though it’s almost certainly a new injury that surfaced sometime during the Rockets game before he came down on PJ Washington’s foot and turned his ankle in the second half. This marks the third time Ball has rolled/injured his ankle this season. I’d imagine the recovery process will be even slower and more cautious this go-round.

On the bright side, Gordon Hayward seems very close to returning (per the Charlotte Observer’s Rod Boone) after missing the last eight games with hamstring soreness. Without Hayward, Cody Martin and Kelly Oubre Jr., Charlotte’s wing depth is scarily thin. If Hayward can get back in the lineup tonight or Monday and Martin gets healthy soon, head coach Steve Clifford won’t be without three of his best players on the wing for long.

Tonight marks the third meeting between the Hawks and Hornets this season, with the Hawks claiming the most recent matchup, 125-106 on Dec. 16. Charlotte took a 126-109 victory on Oct. 23 in the third game of the season. After tonight, more Hornets-Hawks contest awaits us on Feb. 13.

After the win over Houston, the Hornets are no longer last in offensive rating! Charlotte has climbed all the way up to 29th and holds a whopping 0.1 points per 100 possession cushion over the last-place Rockets. It will likely be short-lived with Ball sidelined, but we can enjoy it (for lack of a better term) today.