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Houston Rockets vs. Charlotte Hornets game preview

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The Rockets close out their 5-game road trip tonight in Charlotte.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets have won three games in a row.

The Charlotte Hornets have won six games in a row.

It's a big game for both teams. Houston is now tied for seventh place in the West and only half-a-game away from sixth place and a first round matchup against a team that isn't Golden State or San Antonio. The Hornets currently sit in fifth place and are only two games out of third place after Boston dropped a game last night to some team in red.

Coming into this road trip, it really felt like Houston's playoff hopes would rest on their performance in these five games. At 3-1, they have surpassed expectations by beating the second- and third-best teams in the East on their floors and are one win away from a 4-1 record that most wouldn't have dared predict from this consistently infuriating ballclub.

That won't be easy tonight. Charlotte is on game five of a seven-game homestand and just beat a solid Detroit team last night by doing something you rarely see: they had better stats than Detroit in every single statistical category. Charlotte also has one of those frustrating starting lineups that is liable to give Houston fits. They have good shooters and playmakers in the backcourt in Kemba Walker and Courtney Lee, plus Nicolas Batum usually plays Houston well. Then, there's Marvin Williams, the stretch four that the Rockets have never defended well. Cody Zeller isn't on Howard's level but he's no scrub either. And with Al Jefferson, Jeremy Lin, Jeremy Lamb, and Frank Kaminsky off the bench the Hornets can be a versatile team on offense. They move the ball well and that will be frustrating for a Rockets team on a back-to-back and at the tail-end of a 5-game road trip.

Tip-off is at 6pm CST.

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At The Hive