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Hornets still not playing defense, lose to Trail Blazers 127-96

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The Hornets refuse to play defense. They just won’t do it.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Portland Trail Blazers Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Kemba Walker’s 18 and Jeremy Lamb’s 15 were the only Charlotte Hornets marks in double figures as they got run off the court by the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Hornets dug themselves an early hole with poor defense on the perimeter. The Trail Blazers jumped out to a 13-3 lead in the game’s first four minutes. A James Borrego timeout only provided a brief respite, as Portland went on to score 37 points in the game’s opening period. C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined to outscore the Hornets 28-27 in that first quarter.

The second quarter was more of the same. The Blazers bench brigade boosted the Blazers’ bulge to 19 in the first half of the second period. That lead grew to 21 by the half. In that first half of play, the Hornets had 10 shots blocked while only making 18, an absurdly poor ratio. The Trail Blazers scored 19 fast break points in that half, nearly double their per game average.

The third quarter started with the Blazers bigs bludgeoning the Hornes on the interior before a Kemba Walker 4-point play halted the Blazers run. A 14-0 Portland run late in the period essentially clinched the game. After three quarters, the Hornets trailed 101-68.

The fourth quarter was garbage time from start to finish. Malik Monk and Willy Hernangomez scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter and the Hornets looked like they were on their way to at least making the scoreline respectable, but that idea was quickly wiped out by another Blazers run.

It was another abhorrent defensive performance for the Hornets on the defensive end. It was the fourth time in five games that the Hornets gave up over 120 points. The Blazers shot well over 50% in meaningful minutes. There were several instances of the Hornets being slow to get back in transition, miscommunicating on screens, and failing to contest shots at the rim.

Up next is a visit to Sacramento to take on the Kings, who play at a breakneck pace. After that is a trip to San Antonio, which will mercifully mark the end of this road trip.