The Charlotte Hornets are having a disappointing season to say the least.
At 24-33, they’re in 10th place in the Eastern Conference heading into Thursday and have not been able to emerge as a legitimate threat despite the presence of Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard, both of which are having All-Star caliber seasons.
Walker was eventually selected as an All-Star replacement, and in addition to Howard, the Hornets have a lot of talent on their roster. Nicolas Batum, Frank Kaminsky, Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeremy Lamb each bring something to the table and head coach Steve Clifford is highly-respected.
But, for whatever reason, they haven’t clicked as a unit. Being nine games under .500 at the All-Star break is never an optimal position to be in.
In fact, their inability to close games set an NBA record.
Heading into Wednesday’s game against the lowly Orlando Magic, Charlotte had lost 14-straight games that were decided by one possession. Losing a few one-possession games in a row hurts, but 14 in a row is a completely different story. In many ways, it was an unbelievable statistic.
Their 14-game skid was the longest in the NBA's three-point era (since the 1979-1980 campaign). But, they were finally able to come through, taking down the Magic by the final score of 104-102.
It didn’t come easy, either. Walker and Batum each hit three-pointers with less than a minute and a half to go in order to hold off the Magic, who surged to take a late lead.
Walker ended up with 20 points, five rebounds, six assists, four steals and a block in 42 minutes on the court while Howard posted a double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds in 32 minutes. Batum had 14 points, five rebounds and seven assists while Lamb added 17 points, five boards and three dimes in a strong showing off the bench.
Heading into the All-Star break, the Hornets probably shouldn’t be overly-optimistic. After all, they’re 5.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Miami Heat and 4.0 games behind the ninth-seeded Detroit Pistons and will have to leapfrog both in the standings if they expect to earn a playoff spot. But, if they can use this close-fought victory as a stepping stone, they can possibly use the momentum when they return to action after the All-Star break.
Charlotte will square off against the struggling Brooklyn Nets in their first game back from the week-long hiatus before taking on the Washington Wizards, Pistons, Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics.