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Late comeback falls short as Hornets lose to Pacers

In the final preseason game of the year, the Hornets started flat and couldn't muster enough of a comeback to take down the Pacers.

Doubt a foul was called...
Doubt a foul was called...
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

With Lance Stephenson, Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, and Noah Vonleh all missing this game for the Hornets, the goal for coach Steve Clifford may have been getting through the game healthy.  Well if that was the goal, then count the game as a success as there were no apparent injuries.  However, if the goal was to win the game, then the Hornets failed, losing to the Indiana Pacers 88-79.

In their final preseason exhibition, the Hornets started decently, but it all seemed to fall apart once the first few substitutions came into the game.  Down 16-14 midway through the first quarter, the Hornets then gave up a 25-5 run.  The Pacers size was giving the Hornets legitimate issues on the wing, with P.J. Hairston having to guard the likes of Chris Copeland (list at 6'9") and Janerro Pargo having to guard C.J. Miles (listed at 6'6").

Despite a bad first half, the Hornets rallied in the third to cut it down to 14 before the final frame.  Then Gary Neal got ejected for complaining to the referee.  He didn't appear to do much to warrant the technical or the ejection, but considering he had shot 1-11 from the field at that point, maybe it was a blessing Neal got the boot.  Clifford then went with Justin Cobbs, Pargo, Hairston, Cody Zeller, and Jason Maxiell and surprisingly they went on an incredible run.  Pargo made a Kemba-like crossover and Hairston hit a trailing 3-pointer to bring it to within 2 with 5:33 left to play.

Clifford then brought in Al Jefferson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Brian Roberts, and Marvin Williams to play with Hairston to try to complete the comeback.  Unfortunately, the Hornets were already over the foul limit and struggled to stay out of the referee's cross hairs for the remainder of the game and ultimately fell short.

What stood out? Kidd-Gilchrist (13 points and 7 rebounds) had a great game, playing aggressive and making smart plays.  He added a nice pull-up, contested jump shot and a few drives right into Roy Hibbert.  Brian Roberts (19 points on 7-14 shooting) shot the ball well, lead the team in scoring, and for the most part controlled the game while protecting the ball.  Other than those two guys and the second half defense, coach Clifford likely doesn't have much positive to say about this game.  Oh and Hairston was taking 3-point shots from out of bounds during halftime.

Stat of the night: Al Jefferson had six blocks. For those unfamiliar with Jefferson's game, that is a lot of blocks for him.  He had a good game defensively, which is always nice to see from a guy who does the majority of his work on the offensive end.

Next up: Thankfully this is the last preseason game for the Hornets and the next one will count for real.  Charlotte opens up against the Milwaukee Bucks, Wednesday October 29th.  Be there or miss out on the complimentary tuxedo t-shirt.