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Hornets squander third quarter comeback, lose to Bulls 115-109

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The Hornets made a run in the third quarter to bring a 16-point deficit back to a tie game, but couldn’t keep the momentum going.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets have lost three of their last four games and dropped to 4.5 games back of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference after losing 115-109 to the Chicago Bulls Monday night. The loss also bumped the Chicago Bulls up in the standings. They’re now ninth and just 1.5 games back from the eighth seed.

The Hornets came out flat in the first half, shooting 38.3 percent as a team before intermission. In fact, only Jeremy Lamb and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist shot better than 50 percent from the field in the first half.

The Bulls, meanwhile, had no trouble scoring — particularly from behind the arc. More than half of their made field goals in the first half came from there, and that hot shooting gave them a 16-point lead late in the second quarter.

(Okay, okay. I feel it’s necessary to acknowledge that Rajon Rondo converted on three of his four 3-point attempts in the first half and Denzel Valentine on three of his five. Neither of those two shoot better than 35 percent from deep.)

Once the third quarter came around, however, the Hornets made their push and gradually whittled the deficit down to a tie game. Unfortunately, they needed a 10-point quarter from Kidd-Gilchrist to do so, and once he cooled down the Hornets once again struggled to score.

Eventually, the Bulls regained momentum and closed the quarter with a 12-point lead.

And once the fourth quarter rolled around, well, the Hornets were done. They narrowly outscored the Bulls but that 12-point deficit proved to be too much to overcome.

In fairness to the Hornets, they lost this game in large part because Nicolas Batum didn’t play. Batum had been scoring an average of 8.4 points in the first quarter over the team’s last five games on 61.5 percent shooting, well above his season average of 4.6 points on 43.4 percent shooting.

And when Kemba Walker has a poor shooting night — he scored 21 points but needed 24 shots to get them — the Hornets are bound to struggle. He did manage to dish out ten assists, though, giving him his eighth double-double of the season.

It sucks to see great games from Marvin Williams, Jeremy Lamb, and MKG wasted. Williams finished with 13 points and 18 rebounds, Lamb scored 26 points, and MKG scored 21.

I mean, the Bulls aren’t very good. They’ve lost six of their last ten games and haven’t scored more than 100 points since February. So when four Bulls score 20 or more points — in this case, Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, and Nikola Mirotic — well, you’re probably in for a tough night.

This loss blows, as the Hornets lost two of their last three games — all of them home games against meh competition. Now, the Hornets need to play well above .500 basketball to make the playoffs. They’re still in play, but it won’t be easy.

The Hornets next play on Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers.