Rockets vs Hornets Preview and Free Pick – [2/9/2017]

Houston (38-17) at Charlotte (24-28)
When: Thursday, February 9th 2017
Where: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC
Time: 7:05 ET | TV: ROOT Houston, FSN Southeast

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The surging Houston Rockets visit the free-falling Charlotte Hornets on Thursday night at Spectrum Center in the second meeting this year between the two clubs. Houston has won three of four to move within three games of San Antonio in the Southwest Division and have averaged 124.5 point in the last two games – victories over Chicago and Orlando. Houston protected home court by taking three of four on the just-completed homestand and began a stretch of six straight games against sub-.500 opponents with a 128-104 thumping of the Magic on Tuesday. The Rockets did what they do best by forcing 16 turnovers and hitting 16 3-pointers. Houston has made at least 15 3-pointers 28 times to break the record set last season by the Golden State Warriors. All-Star point guard James Harden made up for a 6-of-21 shooting performance on Tuesday by handing out 13 assists while sparking the defense with three steals. Harden recorded 40 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in a 121-114 home win over Charlotte on January 10th.

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The Hornets snapped a seven-game losing streak on Tuesday with a 111-107 victory over the Brooklyn Nets and find themselves in the 9th spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Charlotte shot just 39.2% from the floor in Tuesday’s win over the NBA-worst Nets, but were happy just to return to the win column. “We needed that game, you know we needed that game,” shooting guard Nicolas Batum told reporters. Charlotte star Kemba Walker will be asked to help defend Harden on Thursday, but needs to break out of a shooting slump as well. Walker went 4-of-20 from the floor on Tuesday, but he ended up with 17 points and five assists. Walker is 11-of-42 from the floor in the last three games to mark the first time since December that he failed to reach 20 points in three straight outings. Center Cody Zeller (quad) sat out the last four games but will be evaluated on Wednesday and could return on Thursday. The Hornets will wrap up their four-game homestand with visits from the L.A. Clippers and Philadelphia

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Houston is just too strong offensively for Charlotte and the Hornets are playing as poorly as anyone right now. I think Houston easily wins this game.

Pick: Rockets -4