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Preview: Hornets host west-leading Nuggets

It’s the second consecutive game against a conference leader.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

What: Charlotte Hornets (15-42) vs Denver Nuggets (38-18)

When: 7:00pm EST

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast

Outfitting: Hornets—Statement (purple), Nuggets—Association (white)

Injury Report

CHA: Kelly Oubre (hand surgery)—out, Cody Martin (knee soreness)—out

DEN: Jamal Murray (knee soreness)—questionable, Aaron Gordon (rub contusion)—questionable, Thomas Bryant (trade)—questionable, Zeke Nnaji (shoulder sprain)—out

One night after playing the top team in the East, the Hornets return home to play the top team in the West. The Nuggets hold a respectable 3.5 game lead over the second seed Grizzlies as they’re just about the only Western Conference team that hasn’t had a significant losing skid.

They aren’t at their best though. They’re currently on a four game road losing streak with the most recent of those losses coming to the Orlando Magic on Thursday.

With Gordon and Murray both hampered, the Nuggets will be even more dependent than normal on Nikola Jokic. The two time reigning MVP is almost quietly averaging a triple double while ranking in the 100th percentile in on/off net rating according to Cleaning the Glass. In the first meeting against the Hornets, Jokic dominated to the tune of 40 points, 27 rebounds, and 10 assists—a solid two games for most players. However, the Nuggets only won that game by four.

Mark Williams didn’t play in that game, so this will be his first test against the Joker. He’ll probably struggle with Jokic’s bulk, so he’ll need to use his length to bother the Nuggets center.

LaMelo Ball had one of his better games of the season against the Nuggets earlier this season. He’ll probably need another one of those for the Hornets to have a shot.