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Preview: Hornets set to complete season series with Magic

Let’s see if the gap for the fourth-best lottery odds widens.

Orlando Magic v Charlotte Hornets Photo by David Jensen/Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (20-44) vs. Orlando Magic (26-37)

When: 7:00 PM EST

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, N.C.

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

Outfitting: Hornets — Association (white); Magic — Icon (black)

Injury report

CHA: LaMelo Ball (ankle surgery), OUT; Cody Martin (knee soreness), OUT; PJ Washington (foot strain), DOUBTFUL.

ORL: Jonathan Isaac (adductor surgery), OUT.

Coming off their first loss in over a week, the Charlotte Hornets play host to the Orlando Magic with a chance to even the season series at two wins apiece.

Tonight’s matchup is the fourth and final meeting of the season with Orlando, who took the last contest, 119-113 on Feb. 5. Charlotte won 112-105 on Nov. 14, 2022 and the Magic won 113-93 in the Hornets’ fifth game of the season. With the Magic six-and-a-half games behind the Hornets for the fourth-best lottery odds, a timely loss to Orlando would all but guarantee fourth place for the Hornets with 18 games remaining.

It seems like Paolo Banchero has walked straight into the dreaded rookie wall. In the months of February and March, the likely Rookie of the Year has shot a ghastly 1-35 from three-point range with his only make coming back on Feb. 9 against Denver. If nothing else, the Hornets must ensure that Banchero doesn’t find his range and return to form against them.

Orlando recently signed Hornets legend Michael Carter-Williams to a rest-of-season contract with a team option for next season. They also signed Goga Bitadze after he was released by Indiana following the trade deadline to fill the void left by Mo Bamba, who is now a Laker. Orlando has assembled quite an extensive collection of young players and veterans that appear to be healthy locker room presences from the outside looking in.

Another night without LaMelo Ball. Sigh. If PJ Washington is healthy enough to return, Steve Clifford’s starting lineup will be interesting to see; barring another injury, it’ll likely be the starting five we see for the rest of the year. If not, bring on the Bryce McGowens and Kai Jones minutes.

Side note, I thought this was pretty cool. Bryce seems very nice and it’s cool to have a local-ish guy on the Hornets.