The Charlotte Hornets got run off the floor by the Miami Heat on Saturday. You don’t need a super late recap to tell you that. And the game was probably worse than the score would indicate. The Hornets scored eight points in the third quarter and looked like they wouldn’t do a whole lot better in the fourth until the benches were empty and the Hornets dropped in some garbage time buckets.
The Hornets looked shaken. Everything looks hesitant. Players are passing up open looks from deep to drive into traffic where they also don’t want to attempt to finish in traffic. It’s resulting in a lot of unproductive possessions that end with borderline desperation shots. A Hornets team that was putting up points in bunches as one of the best offenses in the league suddenly can’t make a shot. They’re 2-6 in their last eight games and are shooting 43.9% from the field and 30.9% from three in that stretch, which rank 26th and 29th in the league respectively during that stretch. And that includes their random 158-point outburst against the Pacers.
The optimist will say that the Hornets shooting will return before long, and with that so too will the wins. The defense has gone from terrible to just regular bad in the losing stretch, so if that can be sustained with a return to normalcy in shooting percentages, the Hornets will be okay. That doesn’t make the current position any more tolerable though, and there’s always a chance the shooting slump gets in everyone’s head and snowballs. Thankfully the All Star break and the hard reset that comes with it is just six games away.
Some of those frustrations reached a boiling point during Saturday’s loss to the Heat. Rookie guard James Bouknight had to be escorted to the locker room after an exchange with head coach James Borrego. He had just finished a 14 second stint on the floor to end the third quarter and was pulled for the start of the fourth. There’s been no confirmation over what the spat was about, but it almost certainly has to do with Bouknight’s 14 seconds of playing time on this night and the scarcity of his playing time the rest of the season.
Bouknight’s frustrations are probably valid. He’s show flashes in very limited time yet has still struggled to get off the bench even as the Hornets grind out games with eight player rotations. Borrego has said he wants to find more time for him, but for whatever reason, that time isn’t coming, even when it seems the opportunities present themselves.
No word on if there will be any fallout from the incident. The Hornets are at a crossroads. They’re clearly frustrated and have good reason to be. This is the biggest test they’ve faced all season. It’s up to them if they rise to the challenge and come together or let this derail the season.
They’ll get their first chance to get back on track on Monday night against a Raptors team that recently leapfrogged them in the standings.