Exhausted and almost broken, the Charlotte Hornets lost 95-92 to the Denver Nuggets. Jeremy Lin seems to be barely walking on his bum ankle, Nicolas Batum returned and helped while Kemba Walker is destroying this team from the inside. The future? At least there’s a long rest until their next game, but that’s about the only thing to be optimistic about.
The Hornets started poorly, came back, had another bad third quarter and couldn’t pick up the pace in the fourth, which ended 15-14, as the Nuggets managed to hang on. Cody Zeller and Jeremy Lamb each scored 15 points, Frank Kaminsky bounced back from some awful games to score 14, Marvin Williams and Kemba Walker each finished with 11 points. But Nicolas Batum coming back was probably the reason the Hornets weren’t routed, winning by 7 points during his 38 minutes, scoring 9 points and adding 7 assists, not trying to do too much.
If only Walker could learn from the player he has so many minutes next to. He shot 3-of-12 from the field in another awful display of what not to do on the basketball court, with his six assists not making up for the consistent damage he’s doing in each and every game. In this losing streak, Walker is shooting 37.2% from the field, and an awful 25% over the last two games. None of that has hurt his time on the floor, playing 37 minutes against the Nuggets, in which the Hornets were losing by 14 points.
As for Lin, this was the best sign for Steve Clifford he’s in pain. Lin finished with 0-for-9 from the field, scoring just 2 points in his worse game this season and perhaps his career. But a player who is playing on a bad ankle instead of resting is going to get worse with time, not better. Lin had a great game, individually, against the Los Angeles Clippers on the same bad ankle. Playing 24 hours later, although off the bench this time, wasn’t going to magically heal him. His effort and defense were still solid, but the bad shooting night was bound to happen with the pain he’s in.
And so the Hornets get back to Eastern games banged up and bruised from their tour out West. The next team up? The Atlanta Hawks, which doesn’t bode well for the Hornets, unless Lin gets healthy with the time he and the Hornets have to rest and maybe do some practice. Batum being back on the team is great in every possible aspect for the Hornets, but why does it have to be Lin who hits the bench?
Walker doesn’t deserve to be playing the minutes he does, and doesn’t deserve to be starting in the lineup. He’s one big hole on defense, and he has been miserable offensively for two of three weeks without being “punished” for it. A healthy Lin should start ahead of him and play more minutes than him, with the latter happening a time or two, showing there’s some common sense in Steve Clifford, but not enough to right the wrongs of this team, whether they’re coming from above or simply created by poor coaching.