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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Charlotte Hornets

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The Spurs look to push their win streak to seven in Charlotte.

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Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs @ Charlotte Hornets

Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC
Date: 11/22/16, Time: 6:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW/ESPN - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

The Charlotte Hornets have epitomized basketball purgatory over the past decade, teetering between mediocrity and flat-out abomination from season to season. Under the tutelage of the defensive-minded Steve Clifford, however, the franchise has appeared to right the ship. Were it not for a few poorly-timed Michael Kidd-Gilchrist injuries and a questionable Lance Stephenson acquisition, the Hornets could have been viewed as part of the Eastern Conference elite. 13 games through this season and they might just be there.

Charlotte's prolific early season play can be attributed to several factors. They are third in the league in assists per game, largely due to their two playmakers, Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum. It certainly doesn't hurt that they have more shooters to help spread the floor than previous years. Just two seasons ago, the Hornets were the worst three-point shooting team in the league; now, they're a few tenths of a percent from the top-10. It's also noteworthy that they simply do not turn the ball over, ranking first in the league by a significant margin. As great as the offense has been, we shouldn't discuss Charlotte without bringing up their defense.

The Hornets allow the third fewest points per game and the fifth lowest opponent field goal percentage prior to Monday's blowout against Memphis. The defensive tone is set by Steve Clifford and his conservative scheme that fouls the least in the NBA --€” positively Popovichian! Add defensive stalwarts in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller (who may be out tonight) in there and you have the makings of one of the best defenses in the league. The Spurs -€” particularly the starters -€” have had a rough go of initiating the offense. It's not going to get any easier tonight.

Fun Fact: The Charlotte Hornets lead the league in second half scoring margin (+7.1). Don't be surprised to see this team start out cold and slowly build a comeback throughout the second half. The Spurs should be fully aware of this after last year in the Spectrum Center.

Matchup to watch: Kawhi vs. MKG. This matchup between two of the NBA's longest athletes should be a good one. MKG has made a name for himself in the league with his hard-nosed defense that even put him in the running for DPOY in 2015 despite missing extensive time due to injury. KawhIsolation© has catalyzed a good portion of the Spurs' offense so far, so it will be interesting to see how this will fare against an elite defender.

@

San Antonio Spurs

(Record: 11-3)

Charlotte Hornets

(Record: 8-5)

November 23, 2016

Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC

6:00 PM CDT

TV: FSSW/ESPN

Starters

Tony Parker

PG

Kemba Walker

Danny Green

SG

Nicolas Batum

Kawhi Leonard

SF

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

LaMarcus Aldridge

PF

Marvin Williams

Pau Gasol

C

Roy Hibbert

Vegas line: Spurs by 4.5.

Game prediction: Spurs by 5.

For the Hornets fans' perspective, visit At the Hive.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher.

As always, PtR's Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. But if you're not able to log in here, you can try the Fanvana app which helps connect sports fans and was created by a fellow Spurs fan. Check out the free app on iOS or Android to discover other Spurs fans and join the live chatter for tonight's game. You can follow PtR's tweet stream directly on Fanvana as the game unfolds.