The Charlotte Hornets lost to the Boston Celtics tonight, and the worst part is that it wasn't even surprising. Nobody came into this game expecting the Hornets to win despite that it was the beginning of a fairly "easy" stretch of their schedule, and the term easy is used loosely, because the Hornets might be worse than most of their upcoming opponents.
The offense was horrible, for most of the game, again. There were moments of ball movement that made us think that they had a chance to actually do something, but more often than not that was replaced with single screens, and lots of dribbling. This is a team that can't create off the ball because they have no shooters to stretch the defense, they don't have enough good passers to find the right angles to pick defense's apart with execution, and that results in a whole lot of dribble creation. As a result they get clogged lanes, Al Jefferson post ups against multiple defenders, and a lot of settling for what the defense gives them. Despite having a mediocre defense, the Celtics were able to force the Hornets into exactly what they wanted them to do for most of the night outside of a large run at the end of the game.
With all that said, it's been made pretty clear that if the Hornets are going to win games they're gonna have to rely on their defense, because there is no way their offense can carry them through a game. Tonight, their defense did not step up, until the end. Avery Bradley had 30 points, and the Celtics scored over 100 with over four minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Funny enough, the Hornets then held Boston to 14 points over the final four minutes and 30 seconds of the game. Considering this is the same Hornets team that at one point held opponents under 100 points multiple games in a row, it's not surprising they have the ability to do this, but it becomes that much more apparent how important their defense is. Tonight, for most of the game, Charlotte was out executed by Boston's offense and that's why the deficit got as large as it did.
So were there any positives to take from a horrible loss? Well, Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker played their asses off late in the game, and that led to a fourth quarter run that cut the lead all the way to six points. Walker finished with 28 points and 12 assists while Biyombo finished with five points, six rebounds, and some great defense. Thanks to those two, for a slight moment it looked like the Hornets had a chance. When Biyombo is playing well, and Kemba is having one of those nights, those two can have an impact that completely changes a game. Just a shame their efforts came too little too late.
Also in "good" news, fans that have been calling for Hairston to play more got his wish as he played 18 minutes tonight, but he had a pretty minimal impact on the game.
Outside of that, there's no more good news. The Hornets are still in the playoff race, but none of that really matters as they look good as dead. They're essentially zombies at this point.
Lance Stephenson got his first Did Not Play-Coach's Decision of the season tonight. He's been pretty bad this year, but it's still surprising to see his standing with the team reach that point.
The Hornets have now fallen to 4-14 in games without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. One of those wins came against a Hawks team resting all their starters, and the other was a Kemba game winner against the Knicks to end the longest losing streak of the season.
Nobody is shocked by the Hornets losing tonight, especially when their defense doesn't show up for most of the game, but it's really frustrating to see this kind of performance in such a big game.