If you were holding out hope for a late playoff push, you can let that go. Hornets are officially eliminated from the playoffs with a 121-114 loss to the Celtics. The Hornets will be headed to the lottery and on May 16, Charlotte fans will get a chance to see where the Hornets end up picking — don’t get your hopes up.
Charlotte had a hard time containing Boston’s high-powered offense. Going up against a team that shoots a lot of three-pointers, you knew that the Hornets were going to be in for a long night. Like mentioned in the previous article, Charlotte’s troubles on the defensive end stem from their inability to defend the line. Boston had no issues with getting up as many threes as they wanted, making 17 on 39 attempts tonight. Isaiah Thomas again turned it on in the fourth quarter sealing the victory for the away team. Boston continually ran him off a high double-screens out of a horns set where Horford would roll to he rim and Bradley would pop out to the 3 point line. Predictably, the Hornets defended it by leaving Bradley open from behind the arc and clogging the lane in attempts to stop Thomas. Thomas, despite his size, does a good job of attacking the rim and finished around contact on multiple occasions tonight. Thomas finished with 32 points and 6 assists on 56% shooting. Pitching in was Horford with 16 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds along with 15 from Avery Bradley, who played particularly well in the fourth.
The highlights for the Hornets came on the opposite end of the court. Nic Batum, who has had a recent string of strong starts for Charlotte, again came out hitting on all cylinders. Unlike his past several games, tonight he actually played consistent for all 48 minutes. Batum shot 11-23 and tallied 31 points, 8 rebounds, and only turned the ball over once. This is the Batum that we’ve come to expect when he signed his massive contract last summer. Lastly, our captain, despite his shooting struggles, still made an impact on the game. He finished with 23 points and 8 assists. There was a scare late in the game in which Kemba seemed to aggravate his left leg fighting through a screen. He eventually walked off on his own power but it would have been bad for Walker to go down to a significant injury in a somewhat meaningless game.
The Hornets do have two more games remaining and at this point they are playing for pride. This is also a chance for Clifford, who was ejected in the first half, to give younger players like Lamb, Kaminsky, Weber, and Graham some run to finish the season. The season didn’t go as planned but it was nice to see the Hornets battle in the home finale against the Celtics who had everything to play for.
Monday, April 10 — @ Milwaukee, 8 pm, Fox Sport South