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Houston Rockets vs. Charlotte Hornets game preview

The Rockets look to end their losing streak tonight in the Queen City

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight’s game between the Houston Rockets and Charlotte Hornets should involve two pissed off teams. You’re probably well aware of Houston’s disappointing performance against the lowly Portland Trail Blazers. Now measure that against the Hornets, who lost to Detroit for the second time this season. The Pistons were without Cade Cunningham, and the Hornets led 106-103 with two minutes left before giving up a 10-0 run to end the game.

Ime Udoka started off the season as the anointed savior, but the shine is starting to wear off. Wednesday night’s debacle was a mindset-altering game for myself, as it sort of poked a giant hole in Udoka’s defensive principles. The Blazers were the worst scoring team in the league, but in the second half and overtime seemed to score with ease. Yes, it still took a miracle banked in triple to send the game to overtime, but a modicum of solid defense in the third or fourth quarter would have rendered the final two minutes of the game moot.

I get that Tari Eason is out and Houston is running into a stretch of games in which their opponents are all perfectly healthy. I miss Eason too, but like we said when Dillon Brooks was out, Houston’s defensive identity cannot depend on a single player. That’s not a way to make hay. The Rockets have to find their identity again or else they’ll be heading into the All-Star break out of contention for the play-in tournament. The progress this season has been wonderful to watch. Hopefully it isn’t squandered in a now desperate road back-to-back against Charlotte and Brooklyn.

Tip-off

6pm CT

How to Watch

Space City Home Network

Injury Report

Rockets

Tari Eason-OUT (leg)

Reggie Bullock-GTD (back)

Jae’Sean Tate-GTD (wrist)

Nets

None

The Line (as of this post)

Hou -5.5

Looking ahead because we can

Saturday (tomorrow) night in Brooklyn