Steve Clifford, Courtney Lee, Kemba Walker

The winning streak ends for the Charlotte Hornets, at home of all places, losing 107-96 to the Dallas Mavericks as Steve Clifford continues to ride Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum into the ground, while Jeremy Lin seemed to be under the direct order of being on the floor but not intervening in anything.

What can one say about this performance by Lin? He was 0-for-3 from the field, grabbing two rebounds. He finished with just one point, uncharacteristically shooting just 1-for-4 from the line. But for the most part, he was just standing, waiting for the ball to come his way. He has been trying to do more on his own, for himself in recent games, slowly bringing up his shooting percentage. Lin finished with just 13.8% usage percentage. Only Courtney Lee, Cody Zeller and Troy Daniels were less involved.

But this is what Steve Clifford wants. Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum almost untouchable and irreplaceable, while the others are cogs. Maybe this is some directive from above: Make Walker a marketable star no matter what. Walker wasn’t bad, finishing with 25 points and 9 assists. But he did turn the ball over five times and go 2-for-8 from beyond the arc. The good moments for the Hornets came when the defense was getting stops and Batum played well. Walker has 0 or negative effect on that end of the floor. And playing his kind of basketball will only get you so far. A smart team like the Mavericks made the Hornets look a little bit clueless, and that’s mostly on the coach, something the Hornets need to worry about come playoff time.

Both Walker and Batum played 40 minutes. The Hornets got nothing from their bench (19 points for the Lin-Lamb-Jefferson-Kaminsky quartet) and as impressive as Walker’s numbers continue to be most of the time, this team is often unaffected by how he does. Walker plays in some sort of vacuum, untouched and undisturbed by the consequences of his mistakes and actions. Clifford rarely thinks about trying something different. If Walker keeps scoring and yet the Hornets in this game keep falling behind, then maybe doing something a bit drastic is necessary. But Clifford wasn’t hired to think out of the box, if he’s even capable of that.

Parsons scored 24 points for the Mavericks, who stopped a five game losing streak while Dirk Nowitzki remains hot with 23 points. Dallas finished with 30 assists, including 12 for Raymond Felton. Nothing good can be said about a defense that allows Felton and Deron Williams to look so comfortable, as if we’re in 2010 or something like that. Wesley Matthews continued his horrendous shooting (1-of-8 from the field) but was great defensively for the Mavericks, who desperately needed this win with both Utah and Houston winning their games.

So the Hornets lose at home for the first time in over a month. As many times this season, it’s an opportunity to learn something. About being smarter on defense and offense, and mostly about trying new things in terms of rotation, lineups and ball distribution on offense. But as far as the Hornets are concerned, this was just a slight tip of the wing to them, and there’s no need to do anything differently. Bad days happen right? Why think too much of it when you can carry on doing the exact same thing.

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