Key Matchup vs. New York Knicks: Dwight Howard vs. Enes Kanter
The Hornets will look to end a five-game home losing streak on Monday night when they welcome the New York Knicks to Spectrum Center for their second overall meeting of the year. Dwight Howard continues to look as strong as ever in his 14th overall season with averages of 16.1 points (highest since 2013-14), 12.7 rebounds (third most in NBA) and 1.3 blocks per game. Howard also leads the league in games with 15+ points and 15+ rebounds (8) and is one double-digit rebounding performance away from tying Shaquille O’Neal for the fifth-highest total in the NBA since 1983-84 (741). With its two leading scorers Kristaps Porzingis (questionable; left knee soreness) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (out; left leg stress injury) potentially both on the shelf, New York will need a big game from center Enes Kanter. The first-year Knick has been exceptional since coming over from Oklahoma City in the Carmelo Anthony deal, averaging 13.3 points on 60.2 percent shooting (fourth best in NBA) and career-high marks in both rebounding (10.1) and assists (1.4). The Knicks currently rank second in the NBA in second-chance points (15.0), with Kanter sitting seventh individually in this category (4.1). Howard and the rest of the Hornets frontcourt will need to be aggressive and physical on the defensive end in order to prevent any put-back baskets.