Closing in the 2017 All-Star break and the Hornets aren’t even .500.
The Rockets on the other hand, are third in the West, riding James Harden’s coattails as he euro-steps his way to greater and greater MVP consideration.
The Hornets patented defensive toughness, focus, and hustle has been sub-par, even with basketball linebacker Michael Kidd-Gilchrist remaining healthy (knock on wood THIS INSTANT) for the majority of the season.
Just last night the lowly Brooklyn Nets put up seventy in one half of basketball on Clifford’s team. That’s seventy points from a team who’s best player is Brook Lopez (no offense Brook). And sure, perhaps the team, up big after a well-played first half, figured it would simply put things into cruise control has good teams often decide to do. Problem is, the Charlotte Hornets are not a good team. They started the year a good team and they can eventually be one again, but for now they are not. The are an mediocre team playing mediocre basketball.
The Rockets however, are not. Mike D’Antoni found his second basketball God-child (first one being Nash obviously) in James Harden and the Rockets are off to the races, playoffs or otherwise. Harden’s video game-like ability to get a bucket — or at least a foul — whenever his team needs it is probably unparalleled even in a league that includes the likes of Westbrook and Curry and Durant and James. Keep an eye for both Nic Batum and MKG to take turns with Harden, perhaps one being in at all times to save us from some kind of Harden vs. Belinelli matchup.
A couple things to watch:
- The few times the Hornets have really gotten torched this season, it’s been due to giving up excessive amounts of 3 point shooting. If they want any hope of making this a competitive contest, first effort, second effort, and hell, THIRD effort closeouts are going to be important and there just ain’t no time for boneheaded, non-communicative defensive possessions.
- Cody is back! Well, possibly. Cody Zeller is listed as questionable for the game after missing the last seven with a quad contusion. Zeller has been one of the most improved and one of the most valuable Hornets this season. Hopefully he can make a comeback and give the team a much, much needed spark.