The Charlotte Hornets keep on with their brave losing while missing one of the most important pieces of their crumbling puzzle. Jeremy Lin is playing well, Kemba Walker simply shoots senselessly without anyone stopping him, and we’re now at six losses in a row.
Lin had possibly his second best game as a Hornets player, and it wasn’t even close. Jeremy Lamb had his best game in a very long time and it wasn’t enough. Not when P.J. Hairston is such an important part of the rotation. Not when the basketball remains primitive, and based around Walker feeling it or not. The problem is that he’s feeling it even when he’s colder than ice. The whole team is dragged to his style, his level, while his defense makes it difficult for everyone else.
Lin finished with 26 points in 41 minutes, shooting 9-of-16 from the field, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc and 4 assists. Walker? He had 11 points on 4-of-16 from the field, also turning the ball over four times. He’s shooting 36.8% from the field over the last five games, and it might be time to start thinking about giving him some bench time. Without Batum to cover for him and with Clifford uninterested in pulling him out when he makes mistakes, maybe the Hornets can do a little bit better when he’s not playing. It’s worth a shot, considering how bad things have gotten.
There shouldn’t be a competition between Lin and Walker, but completion. However, Walker remains a player that stays unconnected to anything else on the floor. Isolations, tough shots, wasting time on the clock. The Hornets were losing by 19 points during his 38 minutes. Things weren’t much better for Lin or anyone else of the starters (-15 for Lin) in his 41 minutes, but at least he played a part in some good runs, when the Hornets managed to tie the game up before it got away from them again.
The excuse of the injuries only gets a team up to a certain point. There has to be more from this team, and it begins with the kind of basketball they’re playing. Lin alone, even when he’s having really good days (which can happen more often if he gets these kinds of opportunities), isn’t enough. And Lin trying to score his way to victory isn’t him at his best. A combination of that with feeding others (there’s not a whole lot of talent to feed to right now) is him at his best. But the Hornets aren’t there right now, and might not be there until Batum gets back.
Or maybe we’re just hard on the Hornets, and the reality is that the moment Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went down with an injury (season ending, although he hopes to be back in two months) they were hanging on a very thin and tight rope, one injury away from disaster. Walker has been the team’s best scorer, but while hurting them in so many other aspects. Newcomers Batum and Lin were always going to be the important pieces in the Hornets bid to make the playoffs again. Turns out that without one or the other, this whole project is stuck, and neither the coach or the team’s “biggest star” are willing to change in order to stop the losing.