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Preview: Hornets and Spurs face off in Wembyland showdown

It’s an opportunity for the Hornets to assert themselves as the best bad team in the NBA.

Charlotte Hornets v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (16-43) vs. San Antonio Spurs (14-44)

When: 7:00 PM EST

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, N.C.

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

Outfitting: Hornets — Icon (teal); Spurs — Association (white)

Injury report

CHA: Kai Jones (ankle sprain), OUT; Cody Martin (knee soreness), OUT; Kelly Oubre Jr. (hand surgery), OUT; Terry Rozier (hand sprain), DOUBTFUL.

SAS: Tre Jones (foot), OUT; Romeo Langford (thigh), OUT; Doug McDermott (Achilles), QUESTIONABLE; Isaiah Roby (ankle), OUT.

Fresh off a streak-snapping win over the Atlanta Hawks, the Charlotte Hornets have a chance to tack another “L” onto the San Antonio Spurs’ 13-game losing streak tonight.

The Spurs have the longest active losing streak in the NBA — until Monday, the Hornets had the second-longest skid at seven games. Charlotte and San Antonio opened the season against each other, resulting in a comfortable 129-102 victory for the Hornets. They’ll complete the season series tonight as both teams vie for odds in the 2023 Draft Lottery. Charlotte currently holds the fourth-best odds while San Antonio sits in third — the Hornets and Spurs are likely to be jostling for position for the rest of the season as Detroit and Houston have begun to themselves as the clear-cut bottom feeders.

Hornets legend Devonte’ Graham is having somewhat of a resurgence since being traded to the Spurs by New Orleans in exchange for Josh Richardson. He set the record for most points scored in a Spurs debut with 31 on 9-22 shooting with six made threes and a perfect 7-7 from the line, then put up 12 points and eight assists in their last game against Cleveland. Graham has turned the ball over a total of two times in three games and is shooting 35.5 percent from deep with San Antonio, a marked improvement from his final days with the Pelicans.

As a team, the Spurs are ever so slightly better than the Hornets offensively while being notably worse defensively — San Antonio’s 120 defensive rating is dead last in the NBA. They rank highly in assist percentage and play at a relatively fast pace, but are a very poor shooting team. Provided nobody catches fire for them, the Hornets should have the ability to outscore the Spurs tonight.

Malaki Branham has been a bright spot as of late for the Spurs. Since the beginning of February, the rookie has scored 22-plus three times, including a career-high 27 points on Feb. 10 against Detroit. In that seven-game stretch, he’s started six times and is averaging 17.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game and has shot 49 percent from the floor and 40 percent from deep on 5.7 three-point attempts per game. The Ohio State product’s bucket-getting tendencies have quickly translated to the NBA.

For what it’s worth, the Hornets are 18th in offense and 21st in defense in the three games since the trade deadline. Mark Williams has started all three games, eclipsing 11 points twice, tallying one double-double and totaling five blocks and three steals while shooting 12-19 from the floor. He’s been a threat in the pick-and-roll with LaMelo Ball with his soft hands and coordination around the rim, an aggressive rebounder on both ends and has flashed potential as a defensive anchor. When Williams and PJ Washington share the frontcourt, Melo can run any action of his choosing out of ball screens at any time. It’s made for some really beautiful offense at times.

It’s only resulted in one win so far, but the post-deadline Hornets have played well and have been pretty fun to watch. Maybe it’s the uptick in Williams minutes, maybe it’s the uptick in Bryce McGowens minutes. Maybe Svi Mykhailiuk is a great locker room guy. Let’s keep the good times (in relative terms) rolling tonight.

In other news, Hornets owner and six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan celebrated his 60th birthday today by donating a record $10 million to Make-a-Wish. There are few more charitable people in the sports and entertainment sphere than Jordan, who has been a supporter of Make-a-Wish since 1989.

EDIT: Terry Rozier was a late afternoon addition to the injury report. He’s doubtful for tonight’s game with a right hand sprain.