Wednesday, March 29, 2023
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NBA Preview: Charlotte Hornets (15-40) at Washington Wizards (24-29)

The Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets aim to apply the brakes on their respective skids Wednesday when they meet in the nation’s capital.

Washington has dropped three in a row on the heels of a season-best six-game winning streak, while Charlotte has lost four consecutive contests.

After squandering a 20-point lead against Portland on Friday and a 23-point advantage versus Brooklyn the following night, the Wizards fell behind by 22 points late in the first half on Monday en route to a 114-91 setback against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

It didn’t help that Washington was forced to play without injured starters Kyle Kuzma (left ankle sprain) and Bradley Beal (left foot soreness) on Monday and both players are questionable for Wednesday’s game. Porzingis shouldered the load by recording 18 points and seven rebounds and Will Barton added 15 and six, respectively.

Porzingis and Barton, however, combined to make just 2 of 10 shots from 3-point range. As a team, the Wizards sank just 6 of 28 from beyond the arc.

Kuzma scored 20 points in Washington’s 108-100 victory in Charlotte on Nov. 7 and 28 in a 106-102 victory over the Hornets on Nov. 20. He was limited to just 14 in a 117-116 setback in Charlotte on Dec. 2.

LaMelo Ball, who did not play in any of the three meetings with Washington, has averaged 25.5 points during the Hornets’ four-game losing streak. He finished with a season-high 33 points on 13-of-24 shooting from the floor — including 6-of-13 shooting from 3-point range — in Sunday’s 119-113 setback versus Orlando.

Being dominated on the boards and struggles at the free-throw line have become an all-too-common occurrence for coach Steve Clifford’s team.

Charlotte was outrebounded 51-37 in a 118-112 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Friday and 52-39 (including 18-8 on the offensive glass) on Sunday. The Hornets also made just 47.8 percent (11 of 23) from the charity stripe versus the Magic.

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