The Charlotte Hornets were up by five points with less than a minute left in the game Saturday night but stumbled once, tumbled twice, and for good measure crumbled against the Miami Heat, losing in a stupendous and stupefying fashion and thus granting credence to the idea that trading Kemba Walker and blowing this thing up might just be the ethical thing to do.
I’ve seen quite a number of horrendous losses over the years but this is right up there with the absolute worst of them. Good grief.
I worry that if I type out how it all went down I’ll end up tossing my computer across the room. Here, just watch.
That’s not even the worst of it. Check out this head-scratcher from Dwight Howard after the Hornets failed to regain the lead with 32 seconds left.
Miami Heat score 5 points in 4 seconds to tie game, and then win it after refs rule this a foul on Dwight Howard sending Sunshine to the line pic.twitter.com/NxbAqyfW7N— Houston Wobckets (@World_Wide_Wob) January 21, 2018
Kelly Olynyk—”Sunshine” in @World_Wide_Wob’s tweet—hit one of his two free throws and took away what should have been a wonderful, inspiring comeback victory and instead bestowed the very worst of the human emotional palette on Hornets fans.
It should’ve been a win. And it should’ve felt great.
I mean, this was without a doubt Nicolas Batum’s best game of the season. Dude finished with 26 points on 12 shots and single-handedly brought the Hornets back into the game in the third quarter, at one point scoring 12 straight points and following them up with two consecutive assists.
Kemba Walker performed admirably, as per usual. Dwight Howard put in another solid effort with 14 points and 15 boards. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist filled in as needed. Frank Kaminsky looked decent enough. Jeremy Lamb struggled at times but was a net positive in the end.
How on earth did this happen? Are we destined for heartbreak? Is being a fan of this team little more than a drawn out cycle of disappointment? A perpetual letdown masquerading as hope? An assassin lurking in the shadows, waiting for the opportune time to sneak up on us like some Walder Frey crony?
I fancy myself as quite the optimist when it comes to the Hornets so the fact that I’m having these thoughts terrifies me.
This team should be good. Not great, but good. Their starting five, on paper, is above average and they have acceptable depth all around—except at point guard—with one of the more highly respected coaching staffs in the league.
These guys should be in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference. Not elite, but in that next tier. And yet here we are, squandering a stretch of five wins in seven games with a gut-wrenching loss against a hobbled Heat team. There was no Goran Dragic or Dion Waiters or even Tyler Johnson to worry about.
Had the Hornets never recovered from the 11-point lead the Heat had in the first half this loss would be so much easier to process. But by trusting in the script—the double-digit deficit, the third quarter rally and subsequent double-digit lead—we found ourselves exposed at our most vulnerable.
And if we feel this way as fans, I cannot imagine what’s going through the minds of the Hornets. That is not a locker room I’d enjoy being a part of right now.
There’s nothing of substance worth saying right now. Let’s hope this lights a fire under their asses and sends them into a rampage against the Sacramento Kings on Monday.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch cute animals doing cute things in an attempt to rectify my mental state.