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Preview 7 of 82: Thunder @ Hornets

Preview 7 of 82: Thunder @ Hornets

Time: 6:00 PM CST

TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma

Game Notes: Thunder / Hornets

The Thunder (2-4) are back in action tonight in Charlotte, taking on Kemba Walker and his Hornets (4-4) at the Spectrum Center. Coming off two straight wins and carrying some momentum for the first time in the new campaign, the Thunder will be looking for their first road win of the season on the first night of a back-to-back.

Tip-off is at 6:00 PM CST and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Hornets are 1.5-point home favorites according to Odds Shark.

Injury Report


  • Andre Roberson: Out — Knee


  • N/A

Probable Starters

Hornets: Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller


What to Watch For

Containing Kemba: Everything the Hornets can and will accomplish this season starts with Kemba Walker — he comes in averaging 30.1 points, 6 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game. He’s also shooting 41.4 percent from deep on nearly 11 attempts a night. Walker has long been criminally underrated, but a strong performance tonight opposite Russell Westbrook would be a nice feather in his cap. For his part, Westbrook needs to stay engaged on defense and not allow Walker to get open looks from long range. I assume all of the Thunder’s wing defenders will play a part in trying to slow him down.

Familiar Faces: Former Thunder guard Jeramy Lamb is the starting shooting guard for the Hornets, and he’s averaging 10.9 PPG on 39.3 percent shooting from long range. The Hornets also have an old familiar foe coming off their bench, as Tony Parker is Walker’s backup. At age 36, he’s obviously not what he used to be — but he’s coming off a 24 point, 11 assist effort against the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.

Feed the Kiwi: Cody Zeller is the starting center for Charlotte, so Oklahoma City should look to feed Steven Adams early and often. Adams returned from a one-game absence to post 18 points and 10 rebounds against the Clippers on Tuesday. With Nicolas Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist possibly making life difficult for Paul George and the Thunder wings, this looks like a matchup to exploit — even though Zeller isn’t a terrible defender himself.

Forcing Turnovers: The Hornets take very good care of the basketball, averaging an NBA-best 11 turnovers per game so far. OKC has been coughing it up 15 times per game (25th) and can’t afford to get careless against a team that makes as few mistakes as the Hornets do.

Offense/Defense: The Thunder offense will look to build on an improved showing on Tuesday, but they are still shooting just 42.8 percent from the field (27th), 27.5 percent from three (30th), and 66.5 percent from the free throw line (29th). Like the Clippers earlier in the week, Charlotte has been good offensively thus far, shooting 46.3 percent (12th), 37.7 percent from deep (9th), and 80.7 percent from the line (7th). The Thunder offense will need to operate efficiently, limit the turnovers, while the defense stays active and keeps the Hornets from getting hot from long range.