On a night when Stephen Curry went just 1-10 from the 3-point line, the Charlotte Hornets were unable to capitalize, and lost to the Golden State Warriors 106-101. The Hornets led by six after three quarters, but 16 points by Marreese Speights in the fourth quarter brought the Warriors back until they eventually took the lead and held it.
It was once again the same story for the Hornets. Charlotte was down by four after the first quarter, but outscored Golden State 31-21 in the second. Unlike Wednesday against the Portland Trailblazers, the Hornets managed to maintain their six point halftime lead, but like many of the games lost during this eight game losing streak, the Hornets couldn't maintain the lead.
For much of the third quarter, it looked like it would be Charlotte's night. The Warriors missed a lot of open shots, and uncharacteristically shot 26.9 percent from beyond the arc. Klay Thompson was 3-5, but he was the only Warrior to shoot well from beyond the arc.
The Hornets on the other hand, shot well from the 3-point line, particularly in the first half. They finished 6-19, but a few of those misses came late in the game. Brian Roberts and P.J. Hairston combined for a pair of made 3-pointers each, and helped stretch the Hornets lead to 10 at one point in the second quarter. Roberts in particular had another strong game off the bench, finishing with 20 points on 8-12 shooting, leading all Hornets scorers. He did however, miss a wide open 3-pointer with 54 seconds left in the game that would have cut the lead to three.
Al Jefferson scored with ease in the first quarter, and at one point was outscoring the Warriors 8-5, but he struggled as the game wore on, and finished with 18 points on 8-16 shooting.
Lance Stephenson had a great first half, particularly with the second unit. He assisted on a pair of Bismack Biyombo made baskets, including this alley-oop:
This play helped ignite the team and the crowd, which contributed to the Hornets strong second quarter.
The fourth quarter however, belonged to Marreese Speights. He outscored the Hornets 16-8 to start the fourth, finding himself continuously wide open from mid-range. It was frustrating to watch, because in the end it was not Curry or Thompson that shot the Warriors to victory, but Speights. The Hornets should have done a better job defending him, but Speights had what will probably be his season high, finishing with 27 points on 12-20 shooting. (Ed-Note In the Hornets defense, Speights historically doesn't do this, and if you're gonna leave a guy open, he's the player you choose, even if he's shooting at career rates this year.-Chris)
While Speights may have led the Warriors comeback, the Hornets inability to contain opponents on the offensive glass doomed them again. The Warriors had 16 offensive rebounds, which led to 18 second chance points. Until Charlotte limits the number of offensive boards and second chance points, they are going to make it difficult for themselves to win.
The Hornets are now 4-13, and losing eight in a row is hard to stomach after entering the season with so much optimism. While they have managed to keep most of the games close, this team simply isn't good right now. For all the heart Kemba Walker plays with, his poor outside shooting is a liability. For all the good Lance Stephenson and Al Jefferson bring, they don't fit on the court together. This in particular is incredibly concerning, considering Stephenson's arrival was supposed to make it easier for Jefferson. At this point however, Stephenson works much better with the second unit, which raises the question as to whether he is better off playing primarily with that unit. This isn't to say he should be benched in the conventional sense. He's the best two guard on the roster, but if his ability can be maximized off the bench then maybe it's time to try it.
The Hornets play in Atlanta tomorrow night. Winning in Atlanta will be difficult, and with how the team is playing right now, it might be another week until the Hornets break the streak, when they host the New York Knicks next Friday.
There were positives from tonight, such as Cody Zeller registering a double-double in his first start of the season, finishing with 15 points and 14 rebounds. He only started because of an injury to Marvin Williams, but he should be starting from this point on.
At this point, it's still unclear how the Hornets will end up this season. They could be like last year's Brooklyn Nets, who managed to turn a disastrous start around and make the playoffs, or they could be like the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were expected to make the playoffs but fell well short. The effort is there, but the results aren't, and time is running out to turn the season around.