Losing to the Phoenix Suns is something of a low point for the Charlotte Hornets, falling to five straight losses. Jeremy Lin didn’t play badly but he’s injured. Kemba Walker? He keeps shooting away and usually missing. More than anything, the Hornets need to get healthy.
The Phoenix Suns were on a nine game losing streak. They lost by 20 points to the Los Angeles Lakers in their last game while scoring just 77. This is a team that’s on the verge of falling apart, or already has. But a record day beyond the three point line and the usual bad defense and stubborn offense from the Hornets, led by the never ceasing to disappoint Walker, allowed them to have their rare moment of happiness, while making things much worse for Charlotte in a 111-102 win.
The Suns hit 19 three pointers to stop their losing, while the Hornets shot just 43.7% from the field, getting nothing from Frank Kaminsky and Spencer Hawes, combining to score only 3 points on 1-of-13 from the field. Walker led the Hornets with 25 points but he was just 9-of-24 from the field, once again not letting the facts of the past stop him from taking bad shots and ruining possession after possession. However, with the way the Hornets are right now, especially Lin favoring his ankle, Walker is the only one capable of generating offense, and the Hornets were +11 during his minutes.
Lin finished with 15 points on 6-of-9 from the field, also adding four assists. But he turned the ball over five times and it was evident his motion isn’t the same as always. It showed on defense too. Whether or not the Hornets should bench him until he gets better might be the real question in this situation. The basketball is Kemba Walker basketball anyway, so why not let such an important player heal up so the current losing streak doesn’t result in more serious injuries.
The Hornets keep giving up a lot of points, with their defensive efficiency falling to 13th in the NBA following this losing streak. There are ways to get over injuries and missing players, but it takes commitment to a certain style of basketball over the course of a number of games. The Hornets might have done better with Walker shooting this time (even if he missed 15 shots), but the bigger picture tells us that sticking to this system with Walker at the top of the pyramid usually brings more losing.
But the injury crisis is above everything right now for the Hornets, who are missing Nicolas Batum and Al Jefferson. They played Lin 29 minutes, but his ankle isn’t healing, while Jeremy Lamb, also injured, played 7 minutes despite those injuries. In short, a team that relies on a trio of Walker, Lin and Batum has about 1.5 of them at the moment. With Walker playing the same basketball he always has, it doesn’t seem there’s much hope for the tides to turn until everyone gets healthy.