The story of the Charlotte Hornets' 94-92 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday afternoon is very similar to the first two losses the Hornets had this season. The team showed plenty of promise and things to build off of, but was just unable to put it all together when it mattered most.
- For the past four years, the team has struggled mightily with crippling scoring droughts that would take the team out of most games if not for their stellar defense. Such was the case today. Charlotte entered the fourth quarter leading 76-70, then proceeded to start the final frame by shooting 1-for-18 from the floor (they finished 4-of-24).
- Another big reason for the loss — the team could not finish around the basket. Take a look at the following shot chart. This is the Hornets' shot chart for the fourth quarter. Notice not a single shot was made within the paint, and that the only shots made were 3s. This is a complete antithesis of last season, where the team seemed to be unable to make a 3. Ever.
- Charlotte did manage to find a way into the record books. The team chucked up a team-record 37 3-pointers, making 14 (37.8 percent for those who didn't want to do the math on their own).
- The Hawks are just a very poor matchup for the Hornets. On offense, Charlotte repeatedly plays right into Atlanta's double teams, often dribbling or initiating plays on the wing, right where the Hawks love to trap. On defense, the Hornets do not have anyone who can match the speed of Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder, who seemingly got to the rim at will.
- Today in things that do not make sense: Cody Zeller, who played well, finished with a +/- of -15. Spencer Hawes, who played anything but well, finished with a +/- of -2. In addition, Charlotte cannot get Nicolas Batum's open layup in the closing seconds to fall, but can have Marvin Williams' fading, contested, deep bank 3 drop.
- I would not worry too much about Al Jefferson's slow start to the season. After three games, he is averaging just 13.3 PPG on 44.5 percent shooting, but has so far faced Hassan Whiteside and Al Horford, two of the better defensive centers in the league.
- Bright notes:
1. Free throws, which have long been a thorn in Charlotte's side, were not today. The team finished 14-of-15 from the charity stripe.
2. Charlotte's bench outscored Atlanta's 27 to 18, led by Jeremy Lamb's nine points. I like what Lamb could bring to the team. He is the first streaky deep threat the franchise has had since Jason Richardson. (Apparently, the team loves what they've seen so far as well, as they are close to a contract extension with him after just a couple games in a Hornets uniform.)
3. The Hornets as a team finished with the quietest 13 block game you will ever see.
4. Through three games, Marvin Williams has been the team's most consistent player. He is thriving as a stretch 4, and Sunday's game was the first time this season Williams did not record a double-double.
5. Sunday's performance was the reason the team traded for Batum. 16 points, team-high eight assists, five rebounds, two steals and two blocks while doing a solid job as ballhandler and offense initiator. If I'm Rich Cho, I'm working overtime to try to figure out how to keep him in Charlotte long term.