The Charlotte Hornets continued their downward spiral into the lottery, losing to the Indiana Pacers, 98-77. Frank Kaminsky led the Hornets with 20 points off the bench, while Paul George finished with a season high 39 points.
Despite the final score line, this wasn’t a blow out from the start. The Hornets played decently in the first half, keeping pace with an Indiana team coming off a bad loss to New York the night before.
The Pacers got out to a very early lead, but the Hornets responded, scoring six straight to take an 8-6 lead. The maintained a one possession lead until a 3-pointer from Indiana gave them a 3-point lead with around three minutes remaining. It was short-lived though, as Marco Belinelli knocked down a 3-pointer on the next possession to tie it at 16-16. Belinelli was the early leader, scoring six points off the bench.
The game remained close for all of the first quarter, with the Pacers taking a two point lead into the second.
Indiana opened up 31-25 lead a few minutes into the second, but following a timeout, the Hornets responded with six straight. Indiana prevented a comeback, however, and pushed their lead back to seven, but Charlotte eventually tied the game with a minute remaining, after Cody Zeller converted a traditional three point play. It would be the last scoring play from either team in the quarter, and the teams went into halftime tied a 42.
Kemba Walker struggled in the first half, scoring just two points on 1-6 shooting, but started the third quarter off right, scoring on his first attempt and drawing a foul, then following it with a jumper a few possessions later. It would be the last time Kemba scored, however, and he’d finish with just seven points.
After Walker’s stretch, the Pacers got hot, outscoring the Hornets 23-5, including 15 in a row, in the opening four minutes of the third, giving them an 18 point lead. George got hot, scoring 15 points in the quarter, knocking down two 3-pointers.
The Pacers held on to a double-digit lead for the rest of the third, clearly looking like the better team. That continued into the fourth, despite an early effort from the Hornets to come back. George continued to be shoot well, and the rest of the Pacers continued to play better than the Hornets, and that’s pretty much how the entire second half went.
Ultimately, the same issues surfaced once again. Charlotte played fairly well on both ends for a good portion of the game, but then clicked off defensively at the start of the third. Indiana, desperate to make up for their previous loss, jumped on them, and outscored Charlotte 56-35 in the second half.
Offensively, only three players scored in double figures, and only Kaminsky played marginally well, but even he struggled at times, finishing just 1-8 from the 3-point line.
The loss moves them to 29-39, and one game closer to the end of the season, which given their play at this point, can’t come soon enough.