Having won three games in a row, the Hornets headed into San Antonio to play the Spurs who were on a 4-game losing streak. Riding high, the Hornets looked to get a big early-season road win. They however didn’t account for the Spurs secret weapon, some guy named Bryn Forbes. In what seems like a repeat story, a guy who has done very little in the NBA has a huge game vs. the Hornets bench.
The numbers tell the story, a tight game decided by a team hitting big shots late in the fourth. But the real story of the game was the Spurs bench absolutely crushing the Hornets reserves. The Spurs subs outscored the Hornets back-ups 64-16. Monk and Frank couldn’t get shots to fall, and poor Cody Zeller cannot be effective on offense without a competent distributor on the 2nd unit. Until MCW or Batum return, Cody is relegated to doing the dirty work on defense, and hoping shoot-happy guys like Monk and Frank give him a pass once in a while. The Hornets got a good effort from Dwayne Bacon, who started in place of MKG — who wasn’t with the team.
After trading runs in the first half, the Hornets were only down by 4 to start the second half. Lead by Bacon and Howard they came out energized in the third, and with a 7-0 run took a 4-point lead halfway through the 3rd. They were playing inside out with Dwight punishing the Spurs with dunks off offensive boards. It looked like the had the Spurs reeling, but our bench came in and almost instantly gave it all back — and then some. Frank couldn’t guard Rudy Gay who torched the Hornets consistently and by the end of the 3rd quarter, the Hornets were down 9. The starters returned with a run late in the fourth but it was too little, too late as the Spurs Patty Mills hit dagger after dagger. The final from AT&T Center was Spurs 108, Hornets 101.
Jeremy Lamb was amazing tonight. He finished with a career high 27 points and chipped in 6 assists and 9 rebounds. He played to his strengths and shot 66% from the field. His growth as a player cannot be denied, and moving forward it will make decisions more difficult for Steve Clifford.
Howard had another good night with 20 points and 13 boards. He hit 10 of 20 free throws and did an excellent job keeping the Spurs bigs under their averages.
Dwayne Bacon also played well as a starter, scoring 18 and collecting 7 rebounds. The 2nd round pick is not trying to do too much, but still finding ways to hit shots and play physical defense.
This loss rest squarely on the Hornets bench. Frank and Malik Monk are the scoring punch off the bench and when they combine to shoot 3 of 14, their defensive shortcomings will be highlighted. Frank allowed Rudy Gay to get any shot he wanted, and Monk was caught out of position several times, allowing drives and jumpers at will. This group really needs the direction of a true point guard, and hopefully we see MCW make his debut on this road trip.
Number to Know
That’s the number of double/doubles for Dwight Howard this season. The Hornets will need this level of play to continue if the want to get some wins this trip.
The Hornets road trip continues Sunday evening, as they head to Minnesota to take on Jimmy Butler and the Timberwolves.