The ghost of MKG
I cannot wait until he comes back (again). Games like this one against the Cleveland Cavaliers really make you miss Michael Kidd-Glichrist, who was a huge part of the Hornets' win against Cleveland earlier in the year. Blown coverages and rebounding killed the Hornets down the stretch, something that Mike definitely would mitigate. Especially against a team like the Cavs, him along with Nic Batum and Marvin Williams would be able to switch (almost) interchangeably between guarding Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, and Kevin Love. Not to mention beefing up the three point defense, sparking a faster start to the game, and even just slowing down LeBron in general. No way this happens with MKG around:
His absence was felt in almost every crack in the Hornets performance, and yet they made a game of it.
Slow starts, strong finishes
Charlotte offensive point totals by the quarter: 19, 23, 29, 32
Cleveland offensive point totals by the quarter: 29, 29, 28, 26
This has become a trend for the Hornets. Sure it's great to see them fight and claw against one of the NBA's best to make it a close one by the end, but you have to wonder if these sluggish starts and the necessary overcompensation down the stretch is eventually going to wear them out in a seven game playoff series.
Just how good is Cody Zeller?
The first two minutes of the game saw Cody force three turnovers on defense, successfully drive the ball to the hoop, hit a jumper, and do just what we've come to expect as general Cody things. It'll be interesting to see if he can officially join what I believe is the Hornets true core: Kemba, Marvin, Nic, and MKG (the fact that Marvin is now on that list is incredible). He's been good, and there's been flashes of really good, but for whatever reason it seems like Cody hasn't managed to consistently play with the confidence he should — often times still looking tentative offensively, even though he's shown good instincts as a ball handler and distributor, and has solid mechanics as a jump shooter.
With how this season has gone, it's easy to forget that Kevin Love is still good at basketball. He is very good.
Batum (also) hurts
No news as of yet regarding Batum's right knee sprain, but after hearing Clifford's post game comments I wouldn't be surprised if they're ultra-cautious with him, maybe even shutting him down until the playoffs begin. As our own Greg Koebel covered here, the Hornets tie breaker situation is...bleak. The sixth seed seems like the most likely outcome, and would be the Hornets best playoff seeding since the Bobcats first arrived in town. Better to take the sixth seed and cross our fingers for someone other than Atlanta, than go into the post season with Batum at anything other than a hundred percent.