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Charlotte Hornets struggle in 109-90 loss to Oklahoma City Thunder

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The short-handed Hornets were no match Kevin Durant and the Thunder.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

A short-handed Charlotte Hornets team was unable to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder at home, losing 109-90. Kemba Walker lead all scorers with 32, while Kevin Durant scored 29 for OKC.

The Hornets got off to a poor start, down double digits early in the first quarter. The Thunder would control virtually all of the first quarter, and led by 12 entering the second quarter.

Charlotte managed to cut the lead down to eight about midway through the second quarter thanks to solid play from Frank Kaminsky, but two quick 3-pointers by Kevin Durant and Anthony Morrow extended the lead back to 14. From that point, OKC controlled much of the quarter until Kemba Walker scored six straight points for the Hornets, cutting into the Thunder's lead. However, a late run by OKC left them with a 12 point lead at halftime.

The Hornets started strong in the second half, scoring the first 10 points of either team, and managed to cut the deficit to 66-64 thanks to heroic buckets from Walker and Jeremy Lin. The Thunder would level things out a bit however, extending the lead back to nine about midway through the third quarter. The Hornets would make another run later in the quarter, then, following a bizarre encounter between Kevin Durant and a court side fan, the Thunder ended the quarter with their own mini-run, and lead by 11 entering the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter did not start well, with the Thunder bench building on their lead. The Hornets would be unable to mount a significant run the rest of the game, and it would end with a 19 point loss. Second chance points by OKC came at key points, as the extra possessions prevented Charlotte from gaining momentum.

Walker was again the biggest positive offensively. It continues the best scoring streak of his career, which should see him in the running for Eastern Conference Player of the Week. The major runs by the Hornets were led by Walker, who scored often, and in bunches. Lin was next on the team in scoring, finishing with 12 points and 4 assists. P.J. Hairston had a strong start to the game, scoring 10 points in the first half on 3-5 shooting, but foul trouble kept him out of the game for much of the second half.

Beyond those three, scoring was hard to come by. Charlotte shot 34.5 percent from the field, compared to 44.3 percent from OKC. The absence of Nicolas Batum, out due to injury, played a role in this, as his play making ability typically creates high percentage shots for others. And that isn't to say Batum would have made the difference -- beating the Thunder is a tough task for most teams -- but the recent round of injuries have placed the Hornets in a bad place, and with no momentum.

The lack of scoring options recently is a big concern considering that just a few weeks ago the Hornets were full of them. Now, the team is relying so much on Walker, which isn't the best strategy, even when Walker is shooting as well as he currently is. Getting Lin back tonight was a positive, but a healthy Batum, and Spencer Hawes, are important for the Hornets offensively. Hopefully they will be healthy enough to play sooner than later, because January's schedule is full of road trips, and it starts with a visit to Golden State.