The Charlotte Hornets entered tonight's matchup against the Boston Celtics hoping to right the ship in what has been a struggling end to 2015. After starting off December hot, an injury to Al Jefferson along with a suspension on top of that sidelined their key big men for a considerable amount of time. The Hornets haven't played their best basketball ever since, and now they wait for Jefferson to return from his suspension.
Tonight was one of those times where Jefferson's absence felt a little more obvious than usual. There was never a time that it felt like the Hornets weren't playing to their game plan, taking bad shots, or going through a long stretch of poor defense. It just constantly felt like they were missing something. That something was a big man down low they could have fed the ball to.
The Hornets had to face a deficit almost immediately with it taking a little while to get their jumpshots falling. Once they managed to get into the swing of things it felt like they would be able to compete with a pretty good Celtics team. Then, and this happened a lot throughout the game, their offense just stopped working. Shots would be contested, Kemba Walker would dribble too much, and Jeremy Lin would drive into a crowded lane. These were situations where it would have been nice to dump the ball down low, and ask the big man to get them a bucket. Instead, they had to rely on contested jumpshots.
The worst case of this came in the third quarter after Charlotte brought the game to within six. The Hornets were primed and ready to grab the lead, and take a close game into the fourth quarter. Instead, the Celtics ripped off a huge run, and took a 20 point lead (although let's be honest here, that Isaiah Thomas 3-pointer to get to 20 was a total push off of Lin) on the way to what ended up being an insurmountable deficit.
However, while the deficit proved too much, there was some hope early on in the fourth quarter led by an unlikely hero in Frank Kaminsky. The rookie had an NBA realization moment, and really started feeling it when it came to scoring. He put up points quickly, and helped get Charlotte back into the game, but he wasn't able to keep up that scoring touch late into the fourth. The Hornets offense failed once again, and Boston completed the game with an easy win.
This one was frustrating, because there were times where it felt like Charlotte should have been winning, and then there were times where it was incredible they weren't down by more points. The team as a whole shot 35 percent from the field, and that was their ultimate undoing. Turnovers were also once again a problem with the Hornets racking up 16 of them. Nobody on the team shot particularly well, and they were thoroughly outplayed for the majority of the game. Give Boston credit, they played great defense and were the better team tonight. Get back soon Big Al, because the Hornets could have used that post presence tonight.