The Charlotte Hornets did not show up tonight. They looked like a JV team as the Pacers effortlessly dominated the game on both ends of the floor. They struggled offensively, which has been commonplace as the season has wound down. But more disappointingly, they did not show any defensive fight. They left the Pacers wide open from three early and often, and when they weren’t doing that, they were letting the Pacers cut and drive past them for easy layups.
The worst culprit was PJ Washington. He gave up at least two uncontested layups off of inbounds passes where he let his man saunter to the rim without a screen or any other action to challenge him. He got back cut a number of times in live ball action, and was frequently out of position or apathetic with his help defense responsibilities.
He was far from alone though. LaMelo Ball was too overzealous helping off shooters. Malik Monk got beat off the dribble by players that shouldn’t be winning off the dribble. Rozier was a nonfactor on that end for the most part.
Offensively, the Hornets hit a quarter of their 3-point attempts. Terry Rozier was 0-for-9 from deep while Devonte’ Graham was 1-for-7. Graham’s impact on offense was muted with his struggles from outside. Rozier tried a bit too hard to force himself into a rhythm at the expense of the Hornets offense on the whole. Ball and Miles Bridges were passive when the game was within reach and did most of their damage late in the third and into the fourth quarters when the game was already decided.
The only Hornet who played well was Cody Zeller. He put the clamps on Domantas Sabonis throughout the first half while connecting on every shot he threw at the rim. He finished with 17 points in what could end up being his last game as a Hornet.
And so with that, the offseason begins. The Hornets have decisions to make with Zeller, Bismack Biyombo, Malik Monk, Devonte’ Graham, and the Martin twins. They have needs to fill and the young guys have plenty to build off heading into next season. It’s a brutal end to what looked like such a promising season, and brighter days are ahead. The Hornets are building something, and we’re still at the ground level of it all.