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HORNETS VS. BUCKS

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TODAY AT 3:00 PM

Hornets Hosting Washington Wizards in Homestand Finale

by Sam Perley

A season-long five-game homestand comes to an end for the Charlotte Hornets tonight as they’ll close out their nine-day stay at Spectrum Center by taking on the Washington Wizards starting at 7 PM EST.

Charlotte is coming off a 122-107 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday evening, which marked the second straight game things got away from the team at the start of the fourth quarter. Over the past two outings, the Hornets have registered a second-half defensive rating of 129.6, a substantial drop from the 109.3 mark its produced in the opening two quarters.

“The thing in our game is that it’s all cyclical,” said Coach Borrego after Monday’s practice. “Right now, in that fourth quarter, one end is affecting the other. Poor offense is leading to poor defense and then when we have a defensive breakdown, we have to go try and make it up on the offensive possession. It just leads to poor, dry possessions.”

Despite a career-high 31 points from Miles Bridges, Charlotte fell to the Wizards, 125-118, up at Capital One Arena back on Nov. 22. The Hornets held an early 13-point fourth-quarter lead, but it wasn’t enough to withstand a 29-9 Washington run over the final nine minutes of play. Bradley Beal scored a team-high 30 points, Thomas Bryant had 21 points and Dāvis Bertāns added 20 points off the bench (6-of-11 from three) in the win.

Washington has dropped seven of nine since beating the Hornets, sitting fifth overall in offensive rating (112.4) and last by almost two full points in defensive rating (116.4). Beal ranks fifth in the NBA in scoring (28.0 PPG) this season, Bertāns is seventh in bench scoring (14.6 PPG; mini. 15 GP) and third in total threes by any player (84) and Rui Hachimura ranks sixth in scoring (14.2 PPG) and second in rebounding (5.7) amongst rookies.

The Wizards are second in the NBA in bench scoring (45.6 PPG), trailing only the LA Clippers and are also ninth in paint points (48.0 PPG). Charlotte allowed 57 points to the Hawks’ second unit two days ago and will need some strong defensive play from its reserves and a heavy presence at the rim in order to close out the homestand with a victory.

Game Notes: C Thomas Bryant (right foot stress reaction), G Isaiah Thomas (left calf strain), G C.J. Miles (left wrist surgery) and G Jordan McRae (right finger surgery) will not play for Washington… Marvin Williams (right knee soreness) is doubtful to play for Charlotte and PJ Washington (right ankle sprain) is probable… The Hornets have won five straight home meetings with the Wizards (last loss: Jan. 23, 2017).

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