Jeremy Lin, Paul Millsap

The Charlotte Hornets still can’t find a win, losing 92-94 at home to the Atlanta Hawks, as Jeremy Lin had his first bad night for his new team in terms of shooting, but being underused and misused in weird lineups isn’t helping him or the team.

Jeremy Lin played just 21 minutes and scored 7 points (2-of-9 from the field, 1-of-6 from beyond the arc) as the Hornets lost a five point lead with eight minutes to go with Steve Clifford once again using some weird combinations and not going with what worked so well for him during the preseason. Is this a case of a not so good team coming to realize that what worked in exhibition games means nothing in the “real world” or is it simply moving away from what works well?

With the Hornets leading 79-74 after a Jeremy Lamb 3-pointer, Lin was taken out for Kemba Walker. What followed was almost four minutes of the Hornets unable to move the ball, let alone score a basket, allowing the Hawks to pick up momentum and grab the lead. Lin came back for Lamb, but it felt a bit too late. Lin kept missing shots in a rough shooting night for him, but the Hornets once again didn’t look like a team that’s trying to move the ball and get everyone open, making the defensive job a lot easier for the Hawks.

Spencer Hawes has been terrible, almost comical in his presence, showing why things worked out so poorly for him in Los Angeles with the Clippers. Cody Zeller might have had the terrible +/-, but Hawes, with his soft screens and very lethargic approach to the game makes it almost impossible to run an offense next to him and use him as a pick & roll guy and take advantage of his size and shooting. It doesn’t matter if it’s Lin or Walker running the show.

One good thing is that the Hawks did move the ball a little bit better. Nicolas Batum finished with 8 assists and Walker was a little bit less forceful in his approach, finishing with a team-high 17 points, 7 of them coming from the line. But all the good things disappeared in the final quarter, held to just 16 points as a team, with the ball once again sticking to hands of players. The defense by the Hawks is worth a mention, not losing focus despite playing the same team for the second time in three days.

A quick word or two before we sign off: NBA fans, people who follow the sport and are involved in it tend to overreact, myself included. In a long season of 82 games, sometimes a bad game is just a bad game, and it can be unrelated to what came before and what comes after. For the Hornets we’re hoping that that’s the case – just a bad, maybe even slightly unlucky start, while Steve Clifford figures out quickly what works best for his team. The same goes for Jeremy Lin, who even on bad shooting nights can still give a lot to those around him as long as he spends more than 21 minutes on the floor.

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