The Charlotte Hornets put forth an underwhelming effort against the Phoenix Suns and came up short, losing 111-102. Kemba Walker was the leading scorer for the Hornets with 25 points, but it wasn't enough to get a win. The Suns hit a season-high 19 3-pointers.
Both teams came out and played sloppy basketball. Neither team look interested in playing defense. Leading to the Suns shooting 59 percent at the end of the first quarter. The Hornets didn't rotate well on defense, and just didn't look interested. This looked to a game the Hornets could come out and control. Instead they didn't make the Suns pay for their poor defense. They responded with not boxing out, not closing out on shooters, and not putting forth the effort. Head coach Steve Clifford called two timeouts within six minutes of the first quarter just to scold his team over their play.
Into the second quarter the Suns focused on pushing the paint and moving guys around the perimeter for open shots. Ronnie Price and Devin Booker were unsung heroes for the Suns in the first half. Booker racked up ten points in the first half including two threes. Price in his first start contributed with nine points. Brandon Knight had eight points and four assists, but on the other side his on ball defense was lacking. Throughout the game he lost Hornets' shooters along the perimeter and out of timeouts. Another first half standout for the Suns was Jon Leuer. Leuer was popping out on pick and rolls and just roasting Hornets' defenders in the paint. The lineup with Leuer at the five was effective against the atrocious defensive lineup of Spencer Hawes/Frank Kaminsky, but that's not really a surprise. Kemba Walker was out for an extended period
The third quarter was all about the Suns bench. Mirza Teletovic, Devin Booker, and TJ Warren began raining threes on an awful Hornets' defense. The Hornets collapsed almost every time on the pick and roll, and the Suns would kick it to open shooters almost every time. Jeremy Lin continued to lose guys like Booker on screens and gave the Suns easy points. P.J. Hairston shot okay, but racked up four fouls in the process. It seemed like in the third that the shots just weren't going to fall. Clifford looked to the bench to help the scoring, and Troy Daniels stepped up with eight points in the third. Neither team really rebounded well with Zeller leading all players with eleven boards.
This game went off the rails in the fourth. The Suns' bench made up 71 of Phoenix's 111 points. They continued to shoot out of their minds and ended the game shooting 19-of-33 shooting from behind the arc. The Hornets looked to Walker to create offense for them in the fourth, and it ended with a collection of forced midrange jumpers that didn't consistently fall. To put it in perspective, Kemba shot 24 field goals. No other Hornet attempted more than nine. At the same time, Kemba and Lin were the only guys for the Hornets who could make plays with Al Jefferson and Nicolas Batum out.
This was an ugly loss for the Hornets with Kemba grabbing a non-efficient 25 points. Lin and Marvin Williams barely nabbed 15 a piece. The Hornets have two days to figure out how beat a tough Clippers team and frankly the team could be looking at a six game losing streak.