Sometimes it’s frustrating to see a head coach not learn from his mistakes. P.J. Hairston, against the Boston Celtics, had no business being in the Charlotte Hornets lineup. Steve Clifford realized it after a bad start, threw in Jeremy Lin a lot earlier than usual but wasn’t able to get anything that changes momentum or the game, losing for a third time in a row, this time 102-89.
Lin did finish with a +3 in the +/- column, but it wasn’t a very good game from him. Clifford signaled panic and cluelessness with weird moves from the sidelines, completely botching up his rotation and not showing any kind of trust in things that worked in the past. He somehow forgot that having Hairston on the floor against the Celtics starting lineup made no sense, and dug himself a hole he couldn’t get out of.
This was the fourth time in five games the Hornets give up more than 100 points. Al Jefferson is going to be back in the next game, and it’s going to be interesting how that changes the minutes allocations and different lineups we’re going to see. After a very good start without the big man who isn’t exactly a successful or too eager rim protector, the Hornets suddenly look like they need him, at least so defenses can stop focusing on the predictable and never changing Kemba Walker.
Walker fell right into all of his old tendencies, doing everything wrong on both ends of the floor. He finished with 10 points on 4-of-12 from the field in 41 minutes. No matter how poorly he plays, Clifford refuses to take him out, and shows another sign of stubbornness and inability to learn, which is taking this team backwards for every missed opportunity to change the ways of this ballclub. Walker isn’t worth sacrificing an entire game and season for.
Lin wasn’t scorching himself. He shot just 3-of-11 from the field and turned the ball over four times in 32 minutes (at least that was a good thing), but he was great on the boards (8 rebounds), got to the line and cleaned up from there (6-for-6) and overall, the Hornets looked better when he was on the floor. His start was horrendous, but overall, if we’re going to be nitpicky and look into the battle for point guard supremacy, he was once again more beneficial to the Hornets than Walker.
The Hornets need a few days of rest, but only if Clifford actually learns something from them. While we focus on Lin and especially the Lin-Walker axis, the lack of creativity and stubbornness shown by Clifford and his coaching staff when it comes to sticking through the same things that don’t work is more detrimental to how the Hornets play and their record. For a moment there, they were almost the second best team in the East. Now? They once again look like a team that’s barely good enough to make the playoffs, and it’s mostly on the head coach and his frustrating decisions.