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HORNETS VS. NETS

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SATURDAY FEBRUARY 22 7:00PM

Hornets Looking for Season Sweep of Visiting Mavericks

by Sam Perley

The final pre-All-Star Break home game for the Charlotte Hornets takes place tonight when they host the Dallas Mavericks for a 7 PM EST tipoff at Spectrum Center.

The Hornets jumped out to a 20-point first-half lead in Dallas on Jan. 4 and then rallied from 12 down in the fourth to win in overtime, 123-120. Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham combined for 57 points and 21 assists in the victory, PJ Washington had 19 points and Miles Bridges double-doubled with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Luka Dončić recoded a triple-double with 39 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists and fellow-Euro Maxi Kleber totaled a career-high 24 points.

“What we can learn [from that game] is how we played offensively, how we moved the ball,” said Coach Borrego following Friday’s practice. “What we look back on is how we closed it out the right way. Even when it looked like it was unraveling, our defense really picked up there down the stretch. We can play with some elite teams – that was obviously a confidence-type game for us. Tomorrow’s going to be a different game with two different teams playing on our floor.”

With Dončić sidelined since Jan. 31 (right ankle sprain; not expected to play tonight), Kristaps Porzingis is averaging 35.0 PPG on 53.3%, 12.0 RPG and 1.7 SPG over his past three appearances. Jalen Brunson (15.8 PPG), Seth Curry (15.5 PPG), Tim Hardaway Jr. (15.3) and Dorian Finney-Smith (13.5 PPG) are also averaging double figures since Dončić went down.

Dallas still sits atop the league in offensive rating (115.9), although has the third-worst net rating (-18.6) in clutch time this season (score is within five with five minutes to go). Following solid performances against Orlando and Houston, things are starting to click for the Hornets and if they can keep it close down the stretch, they’ll have a great chance of pulling off the season sweep against the Mavericks.

Game Notes: Dallas F Dwight Powell (right Achilles surgery) and Charlotte G Cody Martin (nasal fracture/concussion protocol) are out for tonight’s game… Dallas plays in Washington on Friday night. Porzingis (facial injury), Curry (left knee tightness) and JJ Barea (left ankle sprain) were all questionable for the game… Porzingis has made four out of eight possible appearances in the second leg of back-to-backs this season… The Hornets have just one season sweep of the Mavericks since the 1997-98 campaign (2016-17).

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