The Charlotte Hornets complete their never ending homestand with a 107-99 win over the Orlando Magic which wasn’t that close. Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams took care of the scoring, while Jeremy Lin was his usual self: Missing everything from long range, often more hesitant than aggressive and like the entire bench unit, didn’t do something too memorable.
While earlier in the season the Hornets leaned a lot on their second unit with Lin providing the push when the starters couldn’t get things going, it’s been going quite differently in recent games. Yes, before the garbage time snoozefest killed Lin’s and the other guys’ +/- as the Magic came back to make the scoreline look more respectable, he was part of a very good run that erased some of Orlando’s early lead. But this was another game in which his defense was good, but it was easier to notice how difficult it is for him to get something to go for him offensively.
As for the Hornets, there’s hardly anything to complain about if you’re a fan, with the team so rarely winning so many games at this stage of the season (38-29), fighting to maybe get first round home court advantage instead of struggling to make the playoffs. Kemba Walker struggled with 6-of-16 from the field (3-for-6 from beyond the arc) and just one assist, but Nicolas Batum scored 26 points and Marvin Williams added 26 himself as he’s enjoying his best stretch of the season (21.2 points per game), also adding a team-high four offensive rebounds. The second chance points for the Hornets, with 15 offensive rebounds, pretty much won them the game, as they shot even worse than the Magic (40% to 42.2% from the field).
The Hornets kept their streak of winning when scoring 60 in the first half (or more), improving to 12-0 this season. The Magic did cut it to 105-99, but misses from Victor Oladipo and Mario Hezonja provided some breathing room for the Hornets, and a Batum layup finished the job. Oladipo led the Magic with 25 points. Brandon Jennings scored 16 points for the Magic, who were missing two of their usual lineup players.
Back to Lin, who at this point, seems like someone who should stick to attacking the rim and nothing else. He scored 5 points in 25 minutes (if there wasn’t such a huge lead he would have gotten less) on 2-of-7 from the field, including o-for-4 from beyond the arc. Lin added 2 boards, 2 assists (one pretty as hell to Al Jefferson) and one block. He does a good job of drawing fouls and simply helps the team more when he drives to the basket. But right now, he isn’t giving Steve Clifford too many reasons to give him more minutes and more time with the ball, even while Jeremy Lamb continues to be out. The defense isn’t something that wins minutes, because Clifford figures he has Courtney Lee and Batum for that, while Walker is excused from doing anything on that end of the court. It’s not about shooting more for Lin, who except for the loss to Dallas gets plenty of looks and takes them, but about doing what works for him, even if he thinks it’s only a matter of time before he adjusts to his new (not so new anymore, is it?) shooting form.