Key Matchup vs. Orlando Magic: Nicolas Batum vs. Mario Hezonja
The Hornets will look to enter the All-Star Break with a bit of momentum as they’ll attempt to win their 10th-straight meeting with the division-rival Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.
Despite a disappointing two-point outing against Toronto on Feb. 11, Nicolas Batum seems to have finally found his groove offensively for the Hornets. The 10th-year veteran averaged 16.9 points on 45.5 percent shooting, 4.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.1 steals in a recent nine-game stretch from Jan. 26-Feb. 9, which also included a season-high 31 points vs. Indiana on Feb. 2.
The Frenchman will likely be paired up against fellow-European Mario Hezonja, who has recently turned a corner in his NBA career after an underwhelming first two years in Orlando. The fifth overall pick in 2015, the young Croatian has put up 16.4 points (48.8 percent shooting from three-point range), 5.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.8 steals over his last eight appearances
Injuries have hit the Magic hard this season and the 22-year-old Hezonja seems to have taken full advantage of his recent opportunities, particularly with his fourth-year team option already declined. With two full days of rest, Batum will look to bounce back offensively and keep the budding Hezonja from getting too much offensive freedom when they square off down at the Amway Center.