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Charlotte Hornets lose on the road to the San Antonio Spurs 95-86

A strong third quarter wasn't enough, as the Hornets fell to the defending champs on the road.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Down 17 at halftime to the San Antonio Spurs, the Charlotte Hornets rallied back in the third quarter, but would come up short in their comeback and fall to the Spurs 95-86.

Al Jefferson finished with a double-double, scoring 17 points and 16 rebounds, while Gerald Henderson led the team in scoring with 18 points. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added 14 points, and Cody Zeller finished nine points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists. Zeller also scored the first 3-pointer of his career late in the fourth quarter, giving Hornets fans a glimpse of Future Zeller.

For San Antonio, Tony Parker lead the team with 17 points and five assists, while Danny Green scored 16 points on four 3-pointers. The ageless Tim Duncan finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds.

Tonight was the first game since Kemba Walker had surgery on his knee. While Brian Roberts put in a serviceable outing, the Hornets' lack of depth at point guard clearly showed, as neither Gary Neal or Lance Stephenson operated well as the backup point guard. The Hornets are looking into adding a point guard either via trade or through free agency, and would be wise to do so sooner than later. Roberts should be able to hold things over as the starter until Walker returns, but playing 37 minutes isn't a receipt for success.

The biggest positive from tonight was the play of Al Jefferson. The post moves we've become so used to seeing came with ease, as Jefferson scored on an efficient 8-12 tonight. Unfortunately, foul trouble kept him out of the game, particularly in the first half, or he likely would have finished with more than 17 points. Charlotte will need nights like this from Jefferson if they are to stay in the playoff race while Walker is out. Despite the loss, it was encouraging to see Jefferson moving well and scoring on the block.

Tonight was also featured rookie Noah Vonleh playing meaningful minutes. In nine minutes of play, Vonleh finished with four points and one assist. Offensively, Vonleh looked pretty comfortable. His one field goal came off a loose ball that he picked up and laid in, and he managed to draw a foul later on after gathering a pass on the block. Defensively, he struggled at times, but this is part of learning process. There's a strong chance we'll see more and more of him as the season moves on, and tonight showed a brief glimpse of promise.

Charlotte hadn't won in San Antonio since 2006, when Adam Morrison scored 27 points to lead the Bobcats to a 95-92 victory in overtime. For fun, here's a recap of that game. Beating San Antonio without Walker, Bismack Biyombo, and Marvin Williams would have been a big upset, and yet for stretches the Hornets looked capable of winning, which is encouraging.

Not encouraging is the continued poor play of Neal and Stephenson. Neal finished with 12 points on 4-10, which is actually one of his better shooting nights of late, but his overall shot selection was poor, and he turned the ball over four times. Stephenson didn't score tonight, going 0-5 from the field and turned the ball over four times.

For Stephenson, the nightmare season continued. Despite his efforts on the court, he seems unable to reclaim his good form from last season. The effort has been there, but no matter how the team's dynamic or circumstances have changed, Stephenson can't find an effective role on the team.

The Hornets will fly out tomorrow to take on the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. They will have a few days to adjust to the high altitude, and possibly, look to add a backup point guard. One possible story to watch is whether Kidd-Gilchrist has any lingering effects from a scary fall to the floor, which resembled the fall he had earlier in the season. He did stay in the game, but the back of his head did smack the floor hard.