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Celtics look to keep up momentum vs. Hornets tonight

Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, right, put up a shot as Los Angeles Lakers forward Carlos Boozer defended during a Nov. 9 game in Los Angeles. Kidd-Gilchrist is expected to return to the lineup after missing 12 games because of a foot stress reaction.Mark J. Terrill/AP

The Boston Celtics are coming off a home-and-home split with the Eastern Conference title-hopeful Wizards that served as a net victory for a young team still learning.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s matchup between the Celtics (7-12, 2-5 on the road) and the Hornets:

■ Wednesday’s game is all about continuing the good mojo from the Wizards series. Boston finally rebuffed a fourth-quarter comeback in the home leg Sunday before clawing its way back from a 23-point deficit in the nation’s capital Monday, falling in two overtimes. The players the Celtics hope to get a better feel for were the ones orchestrating the bulk of the comeback, and they were rewarded with plenty of OT action. Kelly Olynyk (career-high 41 minutes), Marcus Smart (career-high 35 minutes), and Evan Turner (season-high 39 minutes) showed what they can do when handed the keys. The question going forward is if Brad Stevens rubbed his starters —particularly temperamental star Rajon Rondo — the wrong way by benching them down the stretch.

■ Charlotte’s 22-year-old big man Cody Zeller has played against older brother, Tyler, four times in his short career, all when the Celtics center was with Cleveland. Cody’s record is 4-0, having outscored big brother in each contest.


■ Charlotte (5-15, 4-7 at home) has failed miserably at building on the best year in franchise history. How much of that disappointment can be attributed to the team’s injury bug is uncertain. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (foot stress reaction) is expected to return to the Hornets’ lineup after missing 12 games, a stretch in which the Hornets went 2-10 with 10 straight losses. The second overall pick in the 2012 draft should boost a defense that has allowed 7.4 points per 48 minutes more without Kidd-Gilchrist on the court, but he shouldn’t factor much into the offense and will probably see limited minutes in his return. The Hornets will also have backup guard Gary Neal, who returned to action Friday following a four-game absence with a shoulder injury.


■ Haverhill residents hoping to see former high school hoops standout and Globe All-Scholastic Noah Vonleh better pray for a blowout. Of the three games the rookie forward has played in, the Hornets fell short by a combined 82 points.

Kemba Walker is no stranger to game-winners, just ask the folks in Storrs, Conn. His nifty layup Friday beat the buzzer (and the Knicks), and snapped Charlotte’s 10-game skid.

Hornets at a glance

When, where: Time Warner Cable Arena, 7 p.m.

TV, radio: CSN, 98.5 FM

Scoring: Al Jefferson 19.6, Kemba Walker 14.3, Gary Neal 12.4.

Rebounding: Al Jefferson 7.8, Lance Stephenson 7.6, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 5.5.

Assists: Walker 5.6, Lance Stephenson 5.4, Brian Roberts 2.3.

Head to head: Boston won the regular-season series, 2-1, a year ago.

Miscellany: Charlotte (5-15) has been idle since Walker’s buzzer-beating layup to defeat the Knicks, 103-102 at home on Friday night . . . The win snapped the team’s 10-game losing streak. Entering the season with playoff hopes, Charlotte is currently three spots out of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference . . . Stephenson has put together two consecutive quality outings, following a 20-point effort against the Bulls with 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists against New York.

Mike Carraggi can be reached at mcarraggi@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeCarraggi.