Hornets buzzing toward top of Southeast

Hornets buzzing toward top of Southeast

With only 16 contests remaining in its quest for its first division title, Charlotte isn’t about to overlook anybody.

Translation: Woebegone Orlando better watch out.

Online sports book BetDSI prefers the Hornets (37-29) as 9.5-point favorites in tonight’s Eastern Conference bout at Time Warner Cable Arena. The over/under total of 212 points also makes for an intriguing side story here.

This evening’s primary narrative, however, pertains to Charlotte’s continued rise through the NBA ranks. The Hornets, victors of 13 of their last 16, occupy third in the Southeast – one half-game back of Atlanta and 1 ½ behind first-place Miami.

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Monday actually marked a rare misstep for Kemba Walker and company. A dreadful shooting performance resulted in a 107-96 loss to Dallas. Steve Clifford’s crew struggled mightily from the free-throw line against the Mavericks, too, making 22 of 34 attempts (65 percent) and committing 15 turnovers.

Such carelessness with the rock usually follows the Magic (29-37). Despite Victor Oladipo’s torrid pace over the past five (20.8 points per tilt), Orlando consistently gets steamrolled from a pure talent perspective.

Charlotte used a monstrous Walker outing to capture the most recent meeting between the two squads, 120-116, on Jan. 22. He may not pour in 40 tonight, but the Hornets will send the Magic to defeat No. 25 of 2016.

TUESDAY NCAA FREE PICK: CHARLOTTE -9.5

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