It appeared a corner had been turned, but concerns loom again as the Charlotte Hornets fall to the Washington Wizards, 109-99.
After losing five in a row, all on the road, the Hornets won three straight home games to start a five game home stand. With wins over the Portland Trail Blazers, Brooklyn Nets and the Toronto Raptors, the Hornets began to regain the play they showed earlier this season and late last season.
However, with the loss tonight, the Hornets are now only one game above .500 with arguably the NBA’s best team in the Golden State Warriors coming to town on Wednesday.
The Hornets now find themselves with a record 8-21 record when they give up 100 points or more.
This time around, the defense was lacking in the first half, where they gave up 60 points. Surely, the Hornets aren’t expected to hold teams below 100 points every night, but it goes to show they heavily rely on the defense to keep them in games due to some of their offensive struggles this season.
John Wall set the tone right out of the gate, scoring 18 points and dishing out four assists in the first half. His counterpart in the back court, Bradley Beal, was on his game as well. After only playing 10 first half minutes, Beal finished with 18 himself, and halted many of the runs the Hornets tried to make in the second half.
As for the Hornets, Kemba Walker finished with 21 points and five assists. Even though he only shot 7/24 from the floor, he alongside Cody Zeller were the only reasons the Hornets were able to cut the lead to six at the end of the third quarter. Unfortunately, his counterpart in Nicolas Batum wasn’t as steady as Beal, shooting 2/9 from the field and finished with four points.
As mentioned, Zeller was vitally important in the second half run but really played well all night. He scored 13 points, grabbed nine rebounds and swatted away two shots, which isn’t a great representation of how many shots he altered.
While rebounding, assisting and turnovers were pretty even between the two teams, it was the shooting that separated them. The Wizards shot 53.8 percent on 80 shots and 40 percent from behind the arc with 10 makes. On the other hand, the Hornets shot 38.9 percent on 90 shots and only 25 percent from three with eight makes.
Markieff Morris had a lot to do with the excellent shooting percentage for the Wizards, as he shot 8/13 and scored 23 points. Outside of Marvin Williams, who left with an injury during most of the first half, Morris was and is a nightmare matchup for the Hornets. At his size, he’s quick, physical and can step out and space the floor. And when he’s hitting those shots, he’s a problem for any team.
If there was another key player for the Hornets, it was Marco Belinelli, who really came on strong in the second half. He scored 14 of his 18 points in the final 24 minutes, and gave the Hornets nearly 29 minutes of play with Jeremy Lamb out of tonight’s game.
Belinelli and the rest of the Hornets bench outscored the unit of the Wizards 40-22. However, Kelly Oubre and Trey Burke made plays early in the fourth quarter when the bench initially had given up the big lead.
There was trouble from the start, and bad first halves have cost the Hornets numerous games this season. A bad start certainly can’t be afforded on Wednesday against the Warriors, a game that is being nationally televised.