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Chicago Bulls vs. Charlotte Hornets Preview: two near-.500 Eastern Conference play-in hopefuls

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Three in a row?!

Charlotte Hornets v Toronto Raptors Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Chicago Bulls (6-8) at Charlotte Hornets(6-8)

#23. A much better basketball player than NBA executive.

Since Michael Jordan took control of basketball operations in 2006, the Hornets have made the playoffs just three times never advancing past the first round.

Over the past four or five years, the Hornets have floated in perennial mediocrity not good enough to make a long playoff run, but not bad enough to command a franchise-changing spot in the draft order. That changed this season when they landed the third pick in the 2020 draft selecting the polarizing point guard LaMelo Ball.

So far the gamble on Ball has paid dividends. He’s filling up the box score each night with over 11 points, six rebounds and six assists per game. The 19 year old is coming off the bench for now although that didn’t stop him from becoming the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double.

The highs are high for the Hornets rookie. He joins veteran Gordon Hayward as the headliner of this young Charlotte squad. Quietly, Devonte’ Graham has really become one of the more underrated point guards in the NBA as the Kansas product has started at point guard over Ball in all 14 of Charlotte’s contests this season.

Meanwhile, the Bulls come in with a winning streak. Chicago took down the state of Texas with back-to-back wins against the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets. The Bulls are playing pretty good basketball right now. More importantly, they’re playing fun basketball something we haven’t been able to say in years.

Both teams come in exceptionally well rested: the Bulls haven’t played since Monday while the Hornets haven’t played in nearly a week.

And if the Bulls lay an egg against the Hornets tonight....at least we have LaMelo Ball to keep us entertained.

Injury Report:

Wendell Carter is out after suffering a thigh contusion at the hands of known menace Denzel Valentine in practice.

It’s possible Chandler Hutchison and Tomas Satoransky play. They were back at practice this week after being in Covid protocols.

Otto Porter Jr. was out last game, but that apparently was more of a rest day then an aggravation of his back injury. Patrick Williams was also out for that one but is listed as probable.

For the Hornets, Cody Zeller makes his return after getting injured in the season opener.

Game Time: 6:00 p.m. CDT; NBC Sports Chicago Plus