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Oh Deer: Hornets come up short against the Bucks

The Charlotte Hornets fell to the Milwaukee Bucks 103-94. Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo lead all players with 32 points as the Hornets fell to 1-2 on the season.

Charlotte went into this game short handed. Injuries have made life hard in the early part of the season and this game was no exception. Out for the Hornets tonight were Nicolas Batum, Michael Carter-Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Julyan Stone, and Cody Zeller. All of the injuries meant call ups for Mangok Mathiang and Marcus Paige. Mathiang and Paige are players signed to two way contracts with the Hornets Greensboro affiliate. While they did not play tonight, the fact that they were active showed how thin the Hornets currently are.

Charlotte faced a tough task tonight in facing Bucks forward Antetokounmpo. He came into the game averaging over 38 points this season as he has put himself into early season consideration for MVP. Charlotte was without its top two defenders in Batum and MKG, which made the task even tougher. Coach Clifford elected to go with small line up to slow down the Bucks offense. This also allowed the team to lean on Frank Kaminsky for bench scoring. Dwayne Bacon, getting his third start, showed poise for a rookie second round pick as he and Marvin Williams were tasked with slowing down the Greek Freak.

Center Dwight Howard continued to collect rebounds, as he hauled in 22 of the teams 48 rebounds. Kaminsky continued his offensive improvement as he lead all Hornets players with 18 points off the bench. Johnny O’Bryant also contributed 14 points off the bench. Team captain Kemba Walker had 15 points but was only 1-6 from behind the arc. The length of the Bucks players made things difficult for Walker to get inside. The length also contributed to the the starting backcourt of Walker and Jeremy Lamb combining for 7 turnovers.

The game was back and forth affair for most of the night. The game was all noted up at 94 and it seemed the game might be headed to overtime. Charlotte’s offense unfortunately fell apart as players missed some good shots, particularly a good look for Marvin Williams that would have given the team the lead with a minute to go.  Charlotte also took some bad shots down the stretch, most notably a Jeremy Lamb three that was way off with about 90 seconds left. Charlotte was unable to get anything going down toward the end, and the Bucks pulled away from the short handed Hornets.

Positives

Though short handed, the team hung in there until the end. Even without Kemba playing great, the team was able to get enough help from a short bench to stay in the game. Howard collected a ton of rebounds and continues to get put backs for the team. Bacon looks like at the very least a solid rotation player. Kaminsky continued his scoring. Oh, and he did this

Negatives

Charlotte’s three point shooting is a problem. The Hornets only converted on 26.9% of their shots from long distance. Rookie Malik Monk was supposed to help that number but so far his shooting has not been very good. Turnovers were an issue again with 14, including 3 from Kemba Walker. Charlotte’s inability to come up with offense in the last few minutes, and setting for bad shots, also did not instill confidence in the ability to finish tight games. Charlotte only made 58% of their free throws, with Howard shooting 0-10 from the line.

Numbers to Know: 5

That’s how many games starting with this one that Charlotte has over 8 nights. With a team struggling with so many injuries, this could be a difficult stretch. Some good news is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has returned to practice. Hopefully he, and others, will be back on the floor soon.

Looking Ahead

Charlotte hosts the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night with a chance to get back to .500. The game is at 7 PM.

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