The Rockets are a really, really good team and the Hornets are not. That’s what a national TV audience saw last night. While the Hornets wore their throwback jerseys, their play resembled more of the throwback Bobcats team that struggled to score and defend in that 7 win season years ago.
The game was actually competitive early, right up until the time when the bench first appeared. Charlotte’s bench unit came in with just under 3 minutes to go in the first-quarter and the Rockets had a 2 point lead at 23-21. By the time the Hornets starters checked back in with 9:44 left in the second-quarter, the game was basically over thanks to a 26-2 blitzing by the Rockets. The Hornets bench couldn’t stop anyone, and couldn’t shoot. The starters managed to fight back to only be down 14 at half, but the Rockets unleashed a flurry of triples to keep the lead comfortable throughout the second half. The final score of 108-96 was not indicative of how non-competitive this game actually was.
Dwight Howard continues to punish teams for going small. He finished with 26 points and 18 rebounds. He was huge on the offensive glass and was 8-11 from the free-throw line. The team, however, still struggles to make entry passes even when he has great position. Jeremy Lamb and Nick Batum both missed several chances to get easy buckets with good entry passes.
MKG also continued his aggressive attitude on the offensive end. He attacked the Rockets inside and finished a very efficient 18 points (8-12 FG) with 11 rebounds while trying everything to stay in front of James Harden.
The bench… Ah, the bench. The second unit flat out sucked against the Rockets. Lamb was ball dominant and lost on defense. Micheal Carter-Williams has turned into a laughing stock among Hornets fans, consistently missing easy layups and looking like he took up basketball last year. This group continues to let down the starters on a nightly basis.
Nic Batum played. Sort of. He didn’t score his first points until 8 minutes to go in the 4th and was mostly a non-factor. I understand the elbow is bothering him, but at this point Batum needs to rest and heal, because he’s not helping the team very much right now.
Number to know
Frank Kaminsky was a -38 in 15 minutes on the court last night. I didn’t even realize that level of bad was possible.
The Hornets return home after this brief two-game road trip to play Miami on Friday night, and that will be the first of four straight home games for Charlotte. They are quickly running out of time to save this season, so it must start soon.