Having not beaten the Oklahoma City Thunder since 2010 as the Bobcats, the Charlotte Hornets rolled into OKC on Wednesday night looking to break a ten-game losing streak. Instead, they leave battered and bruised and with a fourteen point loss to look back on as they travel to Orlando to play the Magic on Friday night.
It started off rough from the tip off, with Russell Westbrook being Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant being Kevin Durant as the Thunder rushed out to an early ten-point lead. Kemba Walker, who'd account for 21 points in this one, 48 hours after scoring a franchise-record 52, scored the Hornets' first eight but couldn't take control of this game as he did on Monday against Utah. The team held on through the rest of the first and second quarters to go into half with a seven-point deficit, but it felt like a lot more.
Anyway, the Hornets are only down seven at half! 52-45. I'm not 100% sure how that happened either.— At The Hive (@At_The_Hive) January 21, 2016
In the third quarter, it all fell apart. An 11-point deficit halfway through quickly became a 20-point lead for the Thunder, as Enes Kanter, Steven Adams, and even Kyle Singler got into the mix.
To make matters worse, Nicolas Batum and Cody Zeller exited in the third quarter with injuries. Batum wasn't himself all game, not making a basket in 24 minutes, and when he left with a sore toe you had to assume that was the reason why. Zeller left soon thereafter with a right shoulder injury later diagnosed as a strain, and he didn't return either. With Jefferson and MKG out, as we've said before, this team cannot afford any more injuries, and those would be two huge ones with enormous impact.
The lead held throughout and the game ended 109-95, with OKC extending their winning streak over Charlotte to 11. They sweep the season series yet again, as Kevin Durant scored 26 and Russell Westbrook had 16 with 15 assists. The Hornets top performers were Kemba Walker with 21 points and Jeremy Lin with 16, but this team has to find more production if four of our top five or six players are out on Friday, even against a weak Orlando Magic team. We can only hope Batum and Zeller return and that the news about MKG is as good as has been reported.
The Hornets drop to 19-23 and an abysmal 4-15 on the road, while OKC improved to 32-12 overall and 12-5 at home. Charlotte plays Orlando at 7pm ET Friday night, and OKC travels to Dallas on Friday night as well. For now, pretend that game didn't happen and dream of Kemba's 52.