Kemba Walker scored 32 points and dished 9 assists and Jeremy Lamb scored 22 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Lou Williams and Tobis Harris’ 65 combined points and the Clippers 75% 3-point shooting, as the Hornets lost 117-115.
The Hornets missed a bunch of bunnies early, but quickly righted the ship. Cody Zeller checked in just over five minutes into the game, marking his first appearance in over a month. He quickly made his presence felt with an offensive rebound and a couple hustle plays. The Clippers bench injected some life into their team, but the Hornets matched them. After one, the Hornets trailed 28-27.
Malik Monk opened the second quarter with some sizzling ball handling leading to a tough layup and then a 3-pointer. Not to be outdone, Kemba Walker checked in about halfway through the period and promptly scored 18 points in the ensuing run of play. Tobias Harris and Montrezl Harrell played well enough to offset some of the damage. At the half, Walker had 25 points and Harris had 18. The Hornets led 58-53.
The Hornets came out of the halftime intermission on a mission. Bismack Biyombo scored seven quick points. Jeremy Lamb scored 10. The Hornets sprinted out to and 83-65 lead with 5:03 left in the third quarter, forcing Doc Rivers to call a timeout. Miles Bridges dribbled into a 3-pointer to put the Hornets up by 20 a short while thereafter. The Clippers went on a 16-4 run after that point, mostly thanks to Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams. The Clippers made all five of their 3-point attempts in the quarter and were 13/17 from behind the arc through three quarters. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Hornets led 92-84.
Lou Williams continued his run of 15 straight points into the fourth quarter. His deep 3-pointer pulled the Clippers within four points of the Hornets, but the Hornets responded with five straight points to push their lead back up to nine. That lead didn’t last long, because Lou Williams. The Clippers fought all the way back to take the lead thanks to their scorching 3-point shooting. They held a 115-113 lead late, but Marvin Williams was fouled going for a rebound. He connected on the ensuing free throws to tie the game with 21.1 seconds to play. Tobias Harris connected on a floater to put the Clippers up two with 4.3 seconds remaining. Marvin Williams’ jumper at the buzzer was blocked, and the Hornets fell 117-115.
This was a tough loss. The Hornets played well for the most part. If there was one obvious fly in the ointment, it was the Hornets inability to generate consistent offense when the Clippers started double teaming Kemba Walker.
It’s easy to pin blame on the defense for the Clippers outside shooting numbers, but it’s unheard of for a team to shoot that high of a percentage on that many 3-point attempts, regardless of the defensive effort. In fact, no team had ever hit 75% or higher on at least 24 3-point attempts before this game. There’s not much you can say about that.
The Hornets won’t have time to dwell on this loss. They’re visiting the Dallas Mavericks tomorrow.