The Charlotte Hornets lost another summer league game, but at least this time we have something to be excited about. Nick Smith Jr. led all scorers with 33 while Brandon Miller chipped in 26.
The Hornets had some staggeringly poor possessions to start the game, but they were stabilized by offense from Nick Smith and Kai Jones in the early going. The first quarter ended with two Blazers free throws followed by a stolen inbounds pass to Blazers 3-pointer. The Hornets were apparently flustered by the five point run. They dug themselves a huge hole in the early part of the second quarter, but were just about able to climb out of it by halftime.
The teams played a pretty mundane but even third quarter to set up a grandstand fourth quarter. It was about as entertaining as a quarter of summer league basketball could be. Shaedon Sharpe and Nick Smith Jr. went back and forth with some huge buckets while Kai Jones added another highlight or two to the reel. Smith’s shot making in particular was a sight to behold. Unfortunately the Hornets couldn’t get over the hump to pull out the win.
Nick Smith Jr. looked like the player that was the top player in his high school class at one point. He finished with 33 points on 20 shots, and the creativity and shot making he displayed in the fourth quarter was tantalizing.
Certainly a game for Smith to build off. The Hornets would welcome the scoring punch.
Brandon Miller had his best game of the summer league as well, scoring 26 points on 15 shots while nabbing a team high six rebounds. The Hornets put the ball in his hands a lot in the pick and roll, and he did a really good job creating good looks. He also showed the wiggle we saw at Alabama and created space for himself in isolation. Plus he showed off some athleticism that’s oft forgotten about.
Kai Jones was a highlight factory. He had two mega Eurosteps on consecutive possessions in the first quarter to go along with his trademark dunks. He had a steal and slam off Sharpe in the fourth quarter to give the Hornets a chance late. He finished the game with 13 points, three blocks, and two steals.
James Nnaji had a couple of moments of physicality on the glass and defensively that will be exciting to watch whenever he finally makes his way to Charlotte.
He had two points on 0-of-2 shooting and only played 15 minutes. He was left on the bench for almost the entire second half despite no apparent injury.
Bryce McGowens had another rough shooting game with seven points on 2-of-8 shooting. Amari Bailey went 3-of-9 from the field and had a few extremely uncomfortable looking jumpers.
The Hornets gave up offensive rebounds on about 40% of the Blazers’ misses, which is way, way too high. There wasn’t any one Blazer that gave the Hornets fits but rather an inability of the Hornets to position themselves well for contested rebounds. For as well as Jones played, he gets a lot of blame in this area; he registered only two rebounds in 26 minutes of work.
The Hornets have one more scheduled summer league game before they play the fifth consolation game this weekend. That’ll be against the Pelicans on Thursday night.