The Charlotte Hornets blew away a game they should have won, and they have nobody to blame but themselves. The game was sloppy from start to finish, but things got really bad late in the third quarter when the defense decided to take a snooze cruise. It never got any better during the fourth quarter, and eventually the Boston Celtics pulled away.
The game was sloppy from start to finish, and that definitely played more to the Celtics strengths than it did to Charlotte. The Hornets defense held on early, but the offense came in spurts. There was never any consistency from the Hornets, which is bad for a team of unathletic veterans. The Hornets can't win off transition buckets and broken plays. They have to out execute their opponent, create good looks for themselves, and play great defense from start to finish. Tonight went completely against all of that.
To make things worse, late in the third quarter when the bench came out and the Hornets had a solid lead, Charlotte's defense decided to leave with the starting lineup. The rim became a hot zone for Boston as they got there seemingly at will, and made short work of the lead the Hornets had worked so hard on building. Maybe Charlotte could have held on had they not turned the ball over 16 times, but apparently that's asking too much.
The fourth quarter probably had to be what was most frustrating for Hornets fans. The Hornets lead had been lowered, but they were still in a solid situation. Even after the bench had finished blowing it the starters were coming in, and all they had to do was get stops, and make a few baskets. For whatever reason the stops never came, and the Celtics eventually just ran away with it. Isaiah Thomas was unstoppable, Jae Crowder turned in to Kyle Korver, and Jonas Jerebko was the strongest man on earth. Those three led the charge for the Celtics to not only take the lead, but win the game late in convincing fashion. Brad Stevens had those three lead the Celtics on a consistent inside-outside attack, and the Hornets were stretched thin on defense. They were able to get a stop here and there, but the offense wasn't able to score enough to make up for the defense not being able to get stops more often.
This was a horrible loss for the Hornets. Not only did they have this game won, but they could have salvaged it at so many points during the game. The defense falling apart is not ideal, but losing out on rebounds, the constant turnovers, and never getting a sloppy game under control doomed them. Sure, a few shots and bounces didn't go their way, but there were so many ways they could have counteracted that with better play.
The few positives from this game are coming from the usual suspects. Mo Williams had another great scoring night, but his shooting numbers look a little skewed due to him gunning so much during garbage time. However, he needs to cut back on the possessions where he chooses to fire up a shot rather than initiate the play, because those plays are harming the team more than they're helping them.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist continues to play aggressive and his defense was top notch as usual. He had a double-double tonight, and this is starting to become an expectation from him rather than a nice surprise. The next step in his career is to see how much better he can become.
Cody Zeller had another great, efficient, game against his brother and did a little bit of box score stuffing. He didn't particuarly excel in one area, but he managed to do a little bit of something across the board. He's starting to carve out a role outside of set screens and grab rebounds.
In the end, a close game turned into a convincing win for the Celtics, and Steve Clifford eventually threw in the white towel. The Hornets had nobody to blame for this loss but themselves, and once again the Hornets are on a losing streak. Considering how streaky this team has been all season, maybe we see a winning streak out of them when Biyombo and Kemba Walker come back healthy?