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Nets end road trip in Charlotte

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Charlotte Hornets v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

“Bright future,” says Kevin Durant, but the days now are still cloudy. The Brooklyn Nets went in to Oakland hoping to pull off the upset of the year. Early on, it looked like they were going to get run out of the gym, but something surprising happened. They fought all the way back from a large deficit and had the lead for a good while. However, the Warriors proved to be too much and they wound up beating the Nets by double digits. [Insert your favorite quote about moral victories here.]

The opponent this evening will be the Charlotte Hornets. Coming into the year, they were expected to compete for a playoff spot. Let’s just say things have not gone according to plan. They’re on the outside of the playoffs and sinking fast. Their loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday was their fourth in a row.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7.

Injuries

Only Isaiah Whitehead is unavailable and he’s healthy, just playing in Long Island. And after watching Jeremy Lin shoot around before the Warrior game and listen to Brad Stephens talk about Gordon Hayward, it sounds like Lin is ahead of Hayward in rehabbing Opening Night injuries.

No Michael Carter-Williams for the Hornets.

The game

The Hornets won the first one last month.

It’s a step down from facing Kevin Durant, but Caris Levert will face another solid small forward tonight. Nic Batum provides a solid mix of scoring, ballhandling, and playmaking at his position and it allows him to run the team’s offense. Levert has been solid off the bench all season and should be in the early 20s with his minutes tonight.

The guard matchups should be fun. D’Angelo Russell played a solid game against the Warriors on Tuesday and the one thing Brooklyn hopes he replicates tonight is the lack of turnovers. DLo only turned it over once against G State, which is a great feat considering Russell turns it over 17 percent of the time he has the ball. The Nets offense tends to be hit- or-miss, so having your lead guard take great care of the ball is a must.

On the other side is Kemba Walker. When you think back to the beginning of his pro career, his 3-point shot was a major cause of concern. That’s a distant memory these days as he’s grown into being a solid option from deep. That success combined with his ability to drive to the rim and draw fouls makes him an incredibly tough cover for opposing guards.

Player to watch: Dwight Howard

For a dude who’s (probably) heading to the Hall of Fame when his career is over, it feels like Howard has never really lived up to his full potential. A lot of that is based on his disastrous stints in Los Angeles and Houston, and failures on that big of a stage will travel with you for a long time. These days, he’s providing solid value for Charlotte and is coming off one of his best games of the season. He still tries to do too much in the low post, but the Hornets are just gonna have to live with it.

Jarrett Allen will have an interesting night. He’s got the height advantage on Dwight, but is a bunch of pounds lighter (30, according to the official stats) than D12. Howard has been one of the better rebounders in the league this year and he’ll look to keep Allen off the boards. Howard has helped the Hornets become a top ten rebounding team in the league this year, and if they win the battle of the boards, they’ll control the flow of the game.

From the Vault

It’s my birthday and I’m in a Sade mood.

More reading: At the Hive