The Charlotte Hornets came out of the gate slow once again and couldn’t dig themselves out of another early hole as they lost to the Houston Rockets, 128-119.
The Hornets had so much fun against the Nets, they decided to do it again. They came out flat and uninspired, letting the Rockets shoot 65% from the field while turning the ball over eight times in the opening quarter alone. They gave up 39 points in the quarter and trailed by 12. They did it better in the second quarter though after they woke up and closed the half on a 23-7 run to go into the break only down three.
They didn’t build on that momentum though. They quickly dug themselves back into that same hole and spent most of the second half trailing by double figures. They finally came alive in the fourth quarter when LaMelo Ball made two threes from the top of the key and Brandon Miller made a three from the corner to pull the Hornets within five with two-and-a-half minutes to play. That was as close as they would get though. They gave up some open looks that the Rockets cashed in to put the game out of reach.
PJ Washington had a good PJ game. He made 5-of-6 threes and was the only starter to not have a negative point differential. He did a lot of his damage early when the rest of the Hornets hadn’t shown up yet. He’s quietly put together a strong individual season so far outside of the 3-point shooting, so if tonight turns that around, we’ll be looking at a really impactful player.
Brandon Miller is still good. His play time in the first half was limited by foul trouble, but he still played an efficient 25 minutes and hit a big three in crunch time. I’m just going to keep putting him in this section so we can remember that we at least have one thing to be excited about.
LaMelo Ball’s fourth quarter was good. The first three were very bad once again, but he looked locked in in the fourth quarter. He scored 13 of his 19 points in the quarter. Some of those were in relative garbage time, but it still ended up being his most efficient game of the season. We’re kinda grasping at straws here, but stuff isn’t good right now.
The Hornets defense was very bad for the second straight game. The Rockets made 21-of-37 3-point attempts, and it didn’t feel like a fluke. Most of their looks were wide open, and it didn’t take a lot of effort to generate those looks. It generally only took one or two drive-and-kicks before the Rockets were looking at a practice jumper.
Meanwhile, the Hornets offense looks like much more a struggle. The spacing looks off, and players don’t seem to anticipate what their teammates are going to do off the ball. It looks pickup basketball-y. The Hornets only attempted 27 threes out of 90 shot attempts, and they seemed to much prefer contested floaters in traffic. Look at this ungodly number of short midrange shots in the paint.
It’s the second consecutive game where Mark Williams was played off the floor by small ball lineups. The Hornets played the last four minutes or so with PJ Washington at the five. A lot of that may have been a desperate attempt for offense, but you’d probably rather not see the Hornets frequently going with no center lineups when they have a center that’s supposed to be really good.
It’s the second straight game where the Hornets gave their opponent their first win of the season. Everything is bad.
The Hornets have a couple of days off before traveling to Indiana to take on the Pacers on Saturday. The Pacers just lost 155-104 to the Celtics on Wednesday.