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Preview: Dwight Howard returns to Philips Arena as Hawks welcome Hornets

A quick rematch.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Before the Atlanta Hawks and the Charlotte Hornets squared off on Jan. 26, Dwight Howard indicated that he wanted to “kill” his former team. After the Hornets knocked off the Hawks in Charlotte, Howard softened that stance a bit but, as he returns to Philips Arena for the first time as a visitor since the offseason trade, the future Hall of Fame big man will be the focus of the proceedings.

Howard has done Howard things this season, averaging 15.9 points and 12.7 rebounds per game for Charlotte. While his rebounding numbers are identical to his single season in Atlanta, the 32-year-old has been a bigger focus of Charlotte’s offense, seeing an uptick in usage (with a downturn in efficiency) and he seems to be happier as a result.

Still, it must be noted that, well, the Hornets (entering the game with a 20-29 record) are led by Kemba Walker. Charlotte’s runaway win in the previous meetings was keyed by the former UConn standout’s heroics in the final minutes and, even with the focus on Howard, the Hawks must contain the opposing point guard in order to have a reasonable chance at success.

From a match-up perspective, this is a very winnable game for the home team, as the Hawks very much threatened to steal a win in Charlotte and flashed some increased aptitude in a home win over Minnesota on Monday. Still, there may be a bit of increased attention on this particular contest given the Howard factor and it will be interesting to see how the team responds.

At the moment, the Hawks are listed as ????? by the good folks in Las Vegas and, as usual, that provides something of a guide to expectations. Stay tuned throughout the day for all the latest.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Wednesday, January 31, 7:30 p.m. ET

Location: Philips Arena

TV: Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports Go, NBA League Pass

Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta)