The Charlotte Hornets, as expected, fell to four consecutive losses as their visit to the Golden State Warriors went as planned. Kemba Walker led the scoring, Jeremy Lin went through the motions but it was usually his good spurts that put the Hornets on the same level with the defending NBA champions.
Lin finished with 13 points, once again starting in the lineup and going 5-of-12 from the field and just 1-for-5 from beyond the arc. Walker scored 22 points but shot like Lin, just a lot more. He was 9-of-21 from the field including 1-for-4 from beyond the arc. Lin, along with P.J. Hairston, hit a couple of threes early in the second quarter putting the Hornets within one point of the Warriors, who followed with a 12-0 run to finish the game. He got the Hornets close with another basket in the fourth quarter, but once again, his good moments are followed by too many possessions without him touching the ball or getting involved too much.
With Batum out, Lin needs to shoot more than 12 shots per game, especially when he has the opportunity to get into some kind of zone. After a good start he ran into another streak of misses and bad decisions which got him benched. When he got back on the floor, Clifford benched him pretty quickly again (all that in the second quarter) for some reason. Going with Walker as the one who can do no wrong in the bench’s approach hasn’t helped the Hornets become better by one ounce. In fact, if often makes it more difficult for them to win games.
Losing 111-101 against a full-squad Warriors team isn’t something to hold your head in your hands about, but the fourth straight loss is. The Hornets aren’t playing good basketball for long enough stretches, and their defense, maybe because their offense is struggling to create some consistency and hot hands, has been appalling for the last couple of weeks. This Western tour could be a key moment in the season, one in which the Hornets pull themselves back into the top 8 in the East or distance themselves way too early from the playoff race.
The Warriors, on their part, got Stephen Curry at his best back. He scored 30 points without forcing himself on the game, while Draymond Green got his third triple double in as many games, the 15th player in NBA history to do so, and the second in franchise history. They once again needed one big run (12-0 we mentioned before) to finish the game off. For them, it begins with defense, as the Hornets fell right into every trap that was set up for them, allowing too many easy points to erase the work they did in order to get back in the game.
Lin isn’t beyond criticism, and this wasn’t one of his best games. But he still does enough to deserve the minutes he’s getting but with more touches that simply aren’t coming his way. The Hornets, shorthanded at the moment, have to stop doing the same thing all the time, which is fall back on Walker (or Jeremy Lamb in this case as well), hoping they get hot. They need to start playing the basketball envisioned at the beginning of this season, which means Lin being a bigger part of this offense.