Fresh off a successful trip out West and having the previous four nights off, the Charlotte Hornets stumbled at home against the Dallas Mavericks in a, 115-111, loss Wednesday night at the Spectrum Center.
The Hornets initially looked like a well rested team that was playing better ball in recent days and primed to take advantage of a generous schedule that featured eight of the next nine at home. Charlotte led by as many as 11 points, and held an eight point lead after the first quarter, before Dallas exploded for 39 points in the second quarter.
The loss was especially frustrating because it rendered a 41-point scoring bonanza from Kemba Walker useless. Walker couldn’t quite beat the Mavericks all by himself but he sure tried his best and his efforts would have been rewarded with a win had Charlotte taken better advantage of their free throw opportunities.
The Hornets attempted 30 free throws and missed 15 of them. That’s not a particularly fair indictment, let me rephrase that: Dwight Howard missed 13 free throws tonight. A 5-18 night at the line killed the Hornets. Dallas got to the line 28 times and hit 22 of them. Missing six free throws versus missing 15 free throws in a four point game? That’s a good place to start to answer the “what did the Hornets in tonight” question.
Or perhaps you could point to Dallas’ ridiculous night from the 3-point line as to why the Mavericks escaped the Spectrum Center with a win. The Mavericks hit 15 of 36 from deep. Yogi Ferrell had a particularly ridiculous night, hitting 7-of-10 attempted 3’s en route to a 22 point night. Harrison Barnes led the way for the Mavericks with 25 points, and Dirk Nowitzki turned back the clock tonight and scored 19 points in only 22 minutes on the floor.
The word for tonight’s loss is “frustrating.” The Hornets had a better night shooting from the floor than Dallas, hit nearly 40 percent of their own threes, out-rebounded the Mavericks and had a +24 advantage in points in the paint. But in a two-possession game, you can’t have 15 missed free throws hanging over your head. Dallas hit theirs, Charlotte didn’t. The “make or miss league” adage applies to free throws and Charlotte was cruelly reminded about that tonight.
The Hornets get Thursday night off before returning to the floor Friday to welcome their second consecutive sub-.500 Western Conference opponent, the Utah Jazz.