Hornets to extend Nets' misery?

Hornets to extend Nets' misery?

Sitting one game back of Boston for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, Charlotte’s on the verge of entering uncharted territory as a franchise. First, though, it must take care of business against a possible late-season spoiler.

The Hornets host the Nets tonight, with a 7 p.m. ET tip at Time Warner Cable Arena. Online sports book BetDSI prefers Steve Clifford’s squad as a 15-point favorite, with the over/under total figure sitting at 206.

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Despite the absence of shooting guard Nicolas Batum (left knee), Charlotte buzzed past New York on Wednesday. Kemba Walker nailed a career-high seven trifectas en route to a 34-point showing in the 111-97 triumph.

As a result, the Hornets kept pace in the jumbled Eastern Conference postseason picture. They are currently among four clubs separated by fewer than two games between third and sixth. It’s an exhilarating time, to say the least, for the group with the 14-3 home record since Jan. 18.

The Nets enjoy none of the same perks. Mired in a 10-game road losing streak, Brooklyn got shredded by Washington two nights ago. With center Brook Lopez shut down for the rest of the campaign, the Wizards parlayed a 53-38 rebounding advantage into a 121-103 victory.

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One bright spot for interim coach Tony Brown: the rise of former first-round draft selection Thomas Robinson. The Kansas product logged a career-best 23 points and 10 boards against Washington, and he’s averaging 15.2 points and 12.2 rebounds in his past five contests. There’s not a ton going on in Brooklyn's backcourt, either, so Robinson should receive a good number of touches moving forward.

Even so, Charlotte’s past the point of fooling around. With or without Batum, the Hornets will achieve their first season sweep of the Nets since 2000-01 in style.

FRIDAY NBA FREE PICK: HORNETS -15

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