The Defense Needs Milk
The Hornets were ranked as one of the worst defenses in the NBA last season, and that continued against the Cavs. The man-to-man defense was just not good enough, a lack of ball-pressure, and effort to stay in front of the opposition coupled with some lackluster effort on closeouts propelled the Cavs to a huge 41-point 2nd quarter, Which helped the Cavs build a 24-point lead. The defense thankfully got better in the 2nd half when Borrego broke out the zone defense, the team looked much more engaged and gave themselves a chance to close the lead and get back into the game. The Hornets will not win many games trying to get into shootouts with teams the defense is something to watch for improvement as the season progresses.
Terry Rozier Forever
Terry Rozier was the best player on the court, hands down for either team. From the tip you could feel the intensity oozing from Rozier on both ends, Rozier poured in 42 points, knocking down an insane 10 three-pointers as he shouldered a good amount of the scoring load for the Hornets throughout the game. On the defensive end, Rozier was one of the few bright spots for the Hornets: he was a pest for Cavs ball handlers, presenting some good ball pressure, and came up with two steals and a block. The best part about Rozier’s night was the efficiency, Rozier was 65% from the field and shot 62% from the three-point line, Charlotte will take those numbers any night of the week.
Welcome To The NBA LaMelo Ball
The Hornets Rookie had a tough night in his first regular-season NBA game going 0-5 from the field and his impact was not felt in any capacity. In the preseason LaMelo had his downs scoring-wise but his presence was felt on the boards and in with his passing ability. A dud night overall as he struggled on defense and only logged 15 minutes in the season opener. Small sample size to judge off of but hopefully, he finds his footing in the rotation as the season moves along. I know he struggled on defense but the more minutes he gets the more comfortable he will become in this system defensively and offensively. I get the overall objective is to win as many games as possible, but LaMelo’s development should be pretty high on the priority list this season.
Prime Gordon Hayward
Gordon Hayward was everything Hornets thought he would be and more he came into the game with a little extra bounce to his step. Hayward scored 28 points and shot an efficient 61% from the field and 50% from the three-point line cashing in on four of his eight attempts. The fractured finger doesn’t seem to be holding Hayward back at all. He looked much more athletic than expected if Hayward keeps this up the Hornets will be competitive in a lot of games this season. Aside from scoring Hayward ended the game with seven assists and four rebounds a well-rounded game for Hayward who was sidelined for a brief period.
The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Rebounding
The Hornets had a tough night on the boards and was probably the main reason they lost the game. Borrego has got to get the guards more active on the boards if the front-court isn’t grabbing rebounds consistently. The Hornets got out-rebounded 41-57 and 24-40 on defensive boards. Nobody ended the game with double-digit rebounding, Drummond and Nance Jr. had their way all night. Internally with the hornets have to give a bit more effort, but it is really hard to not see this team find a way to acquire another front-court player that can help them especially with Charlotte losing Cody Zeller to a broken hand with no timetable yet on how long he will be out.
Washington was a revelation for the Charlotte Hornets last season. But so far (and I know it’s early) he looks like an after-thought, Washington was 1-5 from the field and a -17 in the game, the worst +/- by any player from both teams. Aside from his offense being a non-factor he looked uninterested to defend or compete on the boards. James Borrego showed some tough love by putting Washington on blast a bit, telling the media he has to play better and be in better shape. I’m hopeful PJ will round out into form as the season goes along but the Hornets had ample time to get ready for the season by not being invited to Disney, so it is a bit concerning that the comments about his conditioning are being made around the start of the season.
Silver lining the Hornets played probably their worst game in a while and still had a chance to get into the game. Just a bit more contribution from Bridges, Graham, or Washington and the Hornets should be fine. Charlotte is back at it against the Oklahoma City Thunder this Saturday. They should fare better rebounding wise against a smaller Thunder team. But fixing the defense right now should be the key priority.