The Hornets had a chance to keep themselves in the playoff race with a matchup versus a Pacers team on the second night of a back-to-back, and they kept things close through the first half, but fell flat coming out of the halftime break on their way to a 98-77 loss. The chances of Charlotte making the playoffs has gotten slim, but this loss all but eliminates any chance, dropping the Hornets 10 games under .500 at 29-39.
With Batum still sidelined with miagranes, Jeremy Lamb got another start and played like the guy who got benched at the end of last year. If his shot isn’t falling, his lack of defensive focus makes him a liability.
Kemba struggled all night, and with Batum out, that basically left the Hornets dead in the water – especially offensively. None of the starters played well. When MKG leads the starters in scoring (10 points), it means a defeat for the Hornets.
The defense and bench kept the game close in the first half. The downfall of the Hornets was a 15-0 run early in the third quarter, spearheaded by Paul George, who had yet another monster game against MKG. George dropped 39 points on 15-21 shooting, and had the game been closer, I have no doubt that he could have hit 50.
There were a few positives tonight. Frank Kaminsky found some of the confidence he showed before his injury, dropping 20 points on 7-15 from the floor. He did struggle from deep, but managed to score inside.
The bigger surprise was Briante Weber, who finally got extended minutes and made the most of his time. Although he still needs to get more familiar with the offense, he made nice plays on both ends of the court. Personally, I was most excited about his intensity on defense. Briante picked up his guy at half court, and really made life difficult for Rodney Stuckey, who had 3 turnovers and zero points. I think the young man has done enough for the Hornets to sign him for the remainder of the season. A partially guaranteed multi-year deal might not be off the table either. That should be the focus in these last couple weeks of the season – it’s time to see if guys like Graham, Wood and O’Bryant can help the Hornets return to contending for the playoffs next year.