The Charlotte Hornets are back to losing and back to playing bad, predictable basketball with little defense, relying on Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum to have a good shooting day instead of making the most of an asset like Jeremy Lin, finding himself in a spot he’s been in a few times before this season.
The Hornets lost on an Anthony Davis alley oop, giving the New Orleans Pelicans a 109-107 win, once again hoping that something kickstarts their playoff aspirations. Meanwhile, Charlotte, who thought they were done with losing, at least for the near future, forgot everything that worked so well for them in the win against the Hawks, which in hindsight might have happened because the Hawks had a bad day and not some sucker punch the Hornets delivered them.
Kemba Walker scored 25 points on 9-of-17 from the field, including a late 3-pointer that tied the game before Davis won it with two seconds left. Batum scored 25 points with 2-of-9 from beyond the arc and 8 assists, while Frank Kaminsky scored 18 points in a fine shooting night for him against the horrible Pelicans defense. But Walker played 42 minutes and Batum had 41 minutes, too much for both of them, something the Hornets should have learned before. Too many minutes of Lin not being the main ball handler. Jeremy Lamb not playing didn’t help as well.
Lin himself finished with only 7 points on 3-of-10 from the field. He grabbed 5 rebounds and added a steal in 30 minutes, but too many of them was watching Batum and Walker do their “thing” which is shoot while ignoring others. The 8 assists from Batum weren’t the same ones we saw in the win against the Hawks, feeding trailers and wide open players he helped create the chance for. This time it was more about the number of possessions he had, which was bound to result in some assists. The same way Kobe Bryant has so many assists in his career, despite being a selfish player. Batum isn’t one usually, but playing next to Walker drags players into the wrong kind of style. Lin, by the way, finished with a +6 during his minutes. Batum was -2, Walker was +3 in the team’s plus/minus when he was playing. Those things didn’t change either.
Walker, as you can see in the video, did a very poor job of getting around a very weak screen by Davis, enabling the whole play to develop. Davis scored 22 points for the Pelicans but the big star was Ryan Anderson, someone who keeps getting mentioned in trade rumors, who had 32 points off the bench. The Hornets don’t have a lot of time to rest following this loss, playing back home against the Milwaukee Bucks, who seem to be waking up and sorting out their problems from the first half of the season.
When looking at this game with a narrow view of focusing just on the two points loss, it doesn’t seem so bad. A road loss to the New Orleans Pelicans with Davis hitting the game winning basket, Walker and Batum overall shooting well and Lin, the team’s most important bench player, simply having an off night with this stroke. But this game doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s part of a lot of losses and bad basketball that keeps creeping back to the front for the Hornets, who play the wrong kind of basketball while alienating a key player and think that a good shooting day through hero ball means they’re doing the right thing, which is just sewing the seeds for more losses in the future.