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Preview: The Hornets look to repeat Friday’s historic scoring tonight against the Pacers

Charlotte dropped 51 points in the first quarter of their last game against the Bucks, tying an NBA record. Can they do the same on the road against Indy?

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

What: Charlotte Hornets (11-29) at Indiana Pacers (22-18)

When: 5:00 pm EST

Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse; Indianapolis, Indiana

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

The Charlotte Hornets stunned the NBA world on Friday night when they tied an NBA record with 51 first quarter points in their spectacular 138-109 drubbing of the Milwaukee Bucks. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for Steve Clifford’s squad. Indiana, meanwhile, has been rolling as of late having won seven of their last nine games, with one of their losses coming in overtime at Philadelphia.

Indiana Pacers overview

Indy’s starting lineup is balanced and can shoot the lights out. Point guard Tyrese Haliburton is having a career year with 20.4 points and 10.2 assists while hitting 40.4% of his 3-pointers. Guard Andrew Nembhard scores an efficient 8.1 points per game. Wing Buddy Hield, one of the most underrated shooters in the league, scores 17.9 points per game while hitting 42.9% of his 3s on nine attempts per game.

The Pacers play more of a small ball lineup with 6-foot-5 forward Aaron Nesmith getting shoehorned into the “four” position. Nesmith puts up 9.5 points and 3.8 boards per game. But it’s center Myles Turner who still captures the hearts of a host of Hornets fans. Turner has been near the top of Charlotte’s mock trade scenarios for the last several seasons, and many Hornets fans (myself included) wish they would have landed him a year or two ago. Turner is having the best season of his career by averaging career highs in points (16.7) and rebounds (7.9) while continuing to be one of the league’s elite rim protectors with 2.2 blocks per game.

The Pacers bench is strong. Veteran point guard TJ McConnell isn’t flashy but he’s effective. Rookie guard Bennedict Mathurin, the No. 6 pick in the 2022 draft, is quietly averaging 17.4 points per game. Forward Jalen Smith averages over 10 points and six boards per game but is considered day-to-day heading into this one.

How the Hornets can win

Pound the glass! While the Pacers have a solid record at 22-18, they still have their vulnerabilities. Indy’s biggest weakness is their rebounding. They simply don’t have any players who control the glass. While Myles Turner’s 7.9 rebounds represent a career high, it’s also the highest mark on the team. Reserve Jalen Smith is second with 6.3 rebounds and no other individual player averages five or more boards per game. The Pacers 48.6% rebound percentage ranks just 25th in the NBA.

The Hornets aren’t world beaters on the boards and rank a ho-hum 18th in rebound percentage, but they’re better than the Pacers in this department. They need to exploit this advantage to both generate second chance opportunities and limit the Pacers to one shot on the offensive end.

Let’s give a hat tip to Mason Plumlee here. The 11-year veteran is averaging a career high 9.5 rebounds per game and has hauled in double-digit boards in each of his last four games. Well done, Plum Dog! Helping out in this department is rookie center Mark Williams who has averaged 7.3 boards of his own over the last seven games despite averaging just 17 minutes per contest.