You blew a 23 point lead...to the Orlando Magic. The lowly Orlando Magic (Authors note: The Magic have more wins, so what am I doing calling them the lowly Magic?), I don't even know where to begin.
I guess for starters, why can Charlotte not hold a lead? Against anybody? There is nobody in the NBA that's worse at holding a lead than the Hornets. There might be some stats out there that prove me otherwise, but it doesn't matter. This Hornets team has absolutely no clue how to play with a lead.
Sometimes in football when an NFL team goes up big, they play the prevent defense. The intent is to give up big plays so the other team can't catch up in a hurry. The only problem is when teams do that, they slowly give up yards, then they give up points, and before they know it they're losing. That's what the Hornets do, but in basketball. They play a prevent offense. Lots of jump shots, no ball movement, and making sure they work that shot clock. The Hornets consider contested jump shots successful if they burned a lot of time on the clock. Again, I have no way to confirm this, but that's what it feels like.
When the Hornets aren't playing a prevent offense, they're running around without any organization, slowly letting their opponent back into the game. It doesn't matter how big the lead is, 23 points, 15 points, eight points, no lead is safe when the Hornets possess it.
So the Hornets can't hold a lead, that's okay. As long as they play well when the game matters, it won't matter. Sure it takes a few years off of their fans by stressing them out, but they'll be happy with the win. Well no, not exactly. Once these leads are blown, things only go from bad to worse. Execution becomes a rarity, and there's a general sense of panic as everybody says "Oh no, not again". Meanwhile, all momentum shifts in the favor of whomever Charlotte is playing. Tonight's momentum MVP's were Wille Green and Ben Gordon. The Magic inserted those two when down 23 points, and it's like the Hornets didn't care that they were NBA players. Sure, they aren't very good ones, but those two made the Hornets pay. They hit open jump shots, high percentage or not, and were a huge focal point in the Orlando come back. A comeback that was fueled by the Hornets mistakes, and the Magic taking advantage of hitting some shots they don't usually hit.
Low percentage shots are going to go in sometimes, it has to be accepted. During their comeback, the Magic made quite a few of these. And that's where the most blame goes on the Hornets. When the Magic are making those kinds of shots, the natural reaction is to say "Well they surely won't make it the next time" but even if that's the case, it's Charlotte's job to stop the other shots. When the Hornets do that, the inefficient shots don't matter. Elfrid Payton escaping off the pick and roll, and hitting a mid range jump shot? Okay, you can live with that. Ben Gordon, a 40% career three point shooter, getting a wide open corner three? That's not okay.
At one point, I was no longer frustrated with the Hornets, I merely laughed at them, because it was that comical. As soon as the Hornets lead was down to 10, the collapse was in full swing. A horrible loss, the worst of the season. The Lakers might be arguably the second worst team in the NBA, but at least that was on the road, and a bad game from the get go. This was a blown lead, to a bad team, with horrible execution at the end. Fans are going to find a single person to blame whether it be Kemba Walker, Lance Stephenson, Gerald Henderson, Al Jefferson, Steve Clifford, and none of that matters. Everybody deserves blame for this, because when the collapse started, nobody took it upon themselves to stop it. Somebody needs to step up, or we're gonna be telling this same old tired story again next week.