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Hornets fall to Clippers at home, 107-102

Good performances from Nic Batum and Frank Kaminsky aren’t enough, as Charlotte drops its second game of a three game home stand.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets kept it close, but came up short against the Los Angeles Clippers, losing 107-102. Nicolas Batum led the team with 25 points, eight assists, and six rebounds, while Jamal Crawford led the Clippers with 22 points off the bench, knocking down five 3-pointers.

The Hornets got off to a good start, jumping out to an early 19-10 lead. Batum led the way, scoring eight points on 3-3 shooting.

The three possession lead wouldn’t hold, however, as the Clippers scored nine straight to tie it up before Marco Belinelli knocked down a 3-pointer to give his team the lead again. It started a series of lead changes that ended with the teams tied at 27-27 at the end of the first.

Jeremy Lamb was active off the bench, scoring eight points between the first and second quarters. His play kept the score close, but the bench struggled as a whole on the offensive end, and that’s where things unraveled a bit. With their offense stagnating, the Clippers were able to go up by three possessions.

It felt like LA was beginning to run away with it, but the Hornets starters responded late in the second, and brought them within one of the Clippers. Batum continued to shoot well, converting a four point play at one point. He finished the half with 14 points.

Charlotte tied the game a few times, and had a chance to take the lead with seconds remaining. They’d blow the possession, however, and Los Angeles scored on the other end to lead 53-51 at halftime.

The third quarter was highly competitive, with the Clippers holding a small advantage. Batum and Lamb continued to shoot well, and the Hornets stayed within one or two possessions for most of the third. This came despite a poor shooting night from Kemba Walker, who finished with only 10 points, shooting 4-18 from the field, 1-9 from the 3-point line.

Los Angeles began to gain some ground towards the end, and headed into the fourth leading 77-70.

Charlotte hung around for much of the quarter, however, coming within three points with under five minutes remaining, taking advantage of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan resting. Los Angles jumped back out to an eight point lead, but five straight from Frank Kaminsky gave them life.

Kaminsky had a great fourth quarter, scoring 12 points on 4-5 shooting. It wouldn’t be enough, however, as Charlotte couldn’t knock down enough open looks. Walker struggled in particular, missing two open 3-pointers on consecutive possessions. They would catch a break with a minute remaining, as a loose ball out of bounds went Charlotte’s way. Down five, Batum passed up a wide open 3 he absolutely should have taken, and instead turned it over.

The Hornets pulled within 3 with six seconds remaining, but two free throws by J.J. Reddick iced it.

There wasn’t necessary one place the Hornets lost the game tonight, but a better performance from Walker could have made the difference. He hasn’t played well in the last few games, and it feels as if he could use the upcoming All-Star break to get some rest.

It was positive watching Kaminsky’s fourth quarter play. He created good looks for himself earlier in the game, but many didn’t fall. That wasn’t the case in fourth, and his efforts were nearly enough.

That said, tonight is another loss to add to what is starting to feel like a lost season. Charlotte has no dropped the first two games of its three game home stand, and will have to beat a rising Sixers team on Monday to avoid losing all three.