It's been a couple days since the Charlotte Hornets won a long, and exhausting, double overtime game. It was quite clear tonight against the Utah Jazz that the Hornets hadn't fully recovered from the marathon two days beforehand, and their already short roster didn't help that. The Hornets have been playing without depth for weeks now, due to injury, and it's clearly beginning to take a toll. A fully healthy team would be able to spread the minutes around, and give some of the heavier minutes players rest, but Charlotte hasn't had that option. Especially as they try to fight and remain around the .500 mark until a full roster can return.
The Hornets were clearly tired from the start, quickly giving the Jazz a double digit lead, and unable to get any offense going early on. Charlotte scored 28 points in the first quarter, and finished with a season low 31 points in the first half with nobody other than Kemba Walker able to get points. Charlotte tried to look to Nicolas Batum for offense, but he was pretty rusty his first game back, and was unable to really get anything going. He had flashes, but was for the most part a non-factor.
The Hornets came out of the second half looking a lot better, and actually showed some energy and offense. They pulled the game to single digits, but the Jazz quickly squashed the Hornets run, and before they could blink Utah was leading by 16. Trey Burke exploded from 3-point range with three straight makes from deep with Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors tacking on a few points of their own. It was hard to see how it could get worse for Charlotte, but it did.
On the same night the Hornets got Batum back, Jeremy Lin harshly rolled his ankle when attempting a layup. He stayed on the ground for an entire possession, and then slowly walked off the court straight to the locker room. He didn't return and the Hornets injury luck continues to be the worst thing ever. With key rotation players like Cody Zeller and Jeremy Lamb already missing time the Hornets can't afford to lose a heavy minutes player like Lin for an extended amount of games. Hopefully the reason he didn't return tonight was because the game was out of reach, and the Hornets didn't want to force him to play on an already injured ankle.
Charlotte's offense never did find it's way, and tonight was just a giant mess from start to finish. Kemba Walker was the only player able to get any offense going, and it certainly wasn't good luck for the Hornets to have a night like tonight against a defense as good as Utah's. That said, the Hornets played bad and this isn't a good loss by any means. Why they lost can explained, but it doesn't excuse it, and hopefully Charlotte will come out better next time.