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Charlotte Hornets 73 Utah Jazz 102: Notes and observations

The Hornets went into Utah to play the Jazz last night and pretty much just got stomped.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Hornets lost a bad one to the Utah Jazz last night and got demolished, losing by nearly 30 points. If you watched the game, you don't need much more in the way of introductions, and if you didn't see it, you didn't miss much beyond "welp, they got killed." And since you probably didn't even need me to say that after seeing the score, let's get to the few things we can actually glean from last night's game.

Injuries have decimated the Hornets' chances of winning

Bear with me here- this isn't to say their chances of winning have receded to zero (or next to it), or that Hornets players or strategies aren't worth criticizing because they were going to lose anyway. None of that.

What this means is that, with all these injuries, the Hornets are gonna lose a lot of games. A lot of those are going to be games that the Hornets would easily win at full health (or even 75% health). They'll still win some, but oh man, are they gonna lose some games while several players are still hurt.

Consider: Early in the season, when the only injury was Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the Hornets bench was simply dominating other teams' second units. It was one of the biggest reasons they got off to such a hot start. Jeremy Lin, Jeremy Lamb, Spencer Hawes, Cody Zeller, and Frank Kaminsky all came off the bench. At least two of those players could start for several teams around the NBA, and all of them would be rotation players for any team except possibly the Spurs.

Assuming Lin's ankle injury is serious (and it looked serious), the bench currently retains only Kaminsky from the original group (with Hawes now in the starting lineup, and Lamb and Zeller hurt), and replaced the talented players in the original unit with Brian Roberts, Troy Daniels, Aaron Harrison, and Tyler Hansbrough.

That's a considerable drop-off in talent level. Especially given that the Hornets are missing two starters and will probably be missing two other starting-caliber players from the bench unit (Lin and Zeller), this is the sort of thing that kills teams.

Criticism of the team in individual games is not above reproach. Certainly, just because they're missing several important teammates doesn't give players like Kemba Walker or Nicolas Batum to play poorly (and in last night's game, Batum did play poorly, but he also did not look like he had fully recovered from injury). But it has to be noted that this is no longer the Hornets that many of us expected great things out of this season. On paper, before the season started, the Hornets had 10 or 11 (depending on how you feel about P.J. Hairston) players capable of playing very well in an NBA rotation. Now five of them are hurt. For a team whose primary strength was its depth, this is going to decimate their chances of winning.

Troy Daniels is showing why he hasn't gotten much playing time all year

Don't get me wrong, he played terrific in that 28-point showing in double overtime against the Kings on Monday/Tuesday. But Daniels looked like a completely one-dimensional player in yesterday's game, showing that if he wasn't going to hit his shots at an efficient rate, he didn't have much to offer to the team.

Now, Daniels is a guy who I think should see some minutes even when the team has their sporadic bursts of relative health. In an ideal world, Kidd-Gilchrist is starting, and Hairston and Daniels are splitting minutes off the bench. In the current world, Steve Clifford doesn't have a choice but to play both Hairston and Daniels extended minutes, because he simply doesn't have enough fresh bodies to just sit guys. And while Hairston has seen minutes all year, so analysis of his game (of which, it should be noted, I'm not really a fan) would take quite a bit longer than just a couple paragraphs.

Daniels, on the other hand? Another story. First off, the man can SHOOT. That's not in question. Guy can knock down threes. He won't always do that every game, because randomization of chance is a fickle soul, but give him opportunities, and he'll add three points to the scoreboard.

But that's it. Daniels is shooting under .400 from INSIDE the arc so far this year, and he doesn't look to have much touch on the inside. He's not a great ballhandler and has trouble driving, and he looked totally lost during several offensive possessions when the sets were not being run to get him a shot. He finished with five turnovers and no assists during last night's game.

The Hornets obviously have to play him right now, and even when they aren't forced to give Daniels minutes, I'd still suggest they give him an extended look with the second unit. But Daniels is an offensive specialist that really does not mesh well with the rest of the offense yet. He'll improve and develop better chemistry with the team, but I think it's probably for the best that Hairston holds onto the starting role until Daniels builds a better rapport with the rest of the team.