Hornets Prep for Critical, Yet Manageable, Road Trip
Buzz Words | Hornets 2017-18 Season Notebook
Matt Rochinski and Sam Perley of hornets.com will be following the Hornets throughout the 2017-18 NBA season and keeping fans up to date through the Buzz Words | Hornets Notebook. Keep checking back to see what the latest is as the season unfolds.
By Sam Perley, hornets.com | Friday, Dec. 29, 10:39 a.m.
It was supposed to be an advantageous, home-heavy December schedule for the Charlotte Hornets, but things didn’t go according to plan as they went just 3-7 at Spectrum Center to go along with a 1-3 road mark so far. With this particular stretch now over, the team takes to the West Coast with the hopes of getting the season back on track.
“I expected us to win more of these games. Definitely disappointed with the outcome, but with the NBA you can’t dwell. You got to learn and move on,” said Associate Head Coach Stephen Silas after a 102-91 home loss to the Boston Celtics on Dec. 27.
Outside of the team’s Dec. 29 contest against the reigning NBA Champion Golden State Warriors, the rest of the upcoming trip is relatively feasible on paper. The Hornets will be squaring off against the L.A. Clippers, Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers, all of whom are currently at least five games under .500.
“[We] just have to go out there with a road mentality,” said Marvin Williams. “We’ve got a lot of ground to make up. It doesn’t get any easier for us so we’re going to have to start taking it one game at a time.”
Charlotte might also have the luxury of potentially avoiding a number of high-profile opposing players during this swing including Golden State’s Steph Curry (ankle), the Clippers’ Blake Griffin (knee) and Danilo Gallinari (glute), Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox (quad) and the Lakers’ Lonzo Ball (shoulder) and Brook Lopez (ankle).
Right now, only the New York Knicks (2-12) have as few road wins as the Hornets (2-12) in the NBA this season. Charlotte currently sits 15th in the league in road offensive efficiency (102.8), 16th in road defensive efficiency (107.1) and 20th in road net efficiency (-4.3) with an average away point differential of -5.4 (21st in league).
The road struggles unquestionably need to be reversed now, although these aforementioned numbers indicate the Hornets might not be nearly as bad as that 2-12 mark suggests. But as the old saying goes, ‘You are what your record says you are,’ and right now, the Hornets just haven’t gotten it done away from home. With their four-game, nine-day stay in California starting tonight, the clock is beginning to tick louder than ever.
Hornets Greeted by Home-Heavy December Schedule
By Sam Perley, hornets.com | Monday, Dec. 4, 1:09 p.m.
The confines of Spectrum Center have been quite friendly to the Charlotte Hornets lately, a trend that hopefully continues with a four-game home stretch coming up this week. With losses to only Houston, Cleveland and San Antonio, the team has managed a 7-3 home record this season, although is a mere 1-10 away from Charlotte.
“Right now, we’re just playing with a lot of energy at home [and] not so much on the road,” said Cody Zeller after Sunday’s practice. “We have to carry that through to playing on the road. That’s basically it. It’s just a mindset playing with a lot of energy.”
The biggest advantage of playing at home is unquestionably not having to travel, which often times takes place immediately after games in the middle of the night. Along with having local fans, players also prefer being able to sleep in their own beds while having a bit more control of their normal pregame preparations as well.
Unfortunately, not winning on the road isn’t an option for teams that want to be in playoff position at the end of the season. Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford has mentioned in the past that the better NBA teams win at least 30 home games and 20 road games a year.
In their 10 home appearances this season, the Hornets have posted a net rating of 5.0 (average points scored per 100 possessions minus average points allowed per 100 possessions), a mark that ranks 11th in the NBA. That number plummets to -5.8 on the road, which comes in at 20th overall in the league.
The Hornets will have four home games this week with three of them (Orlando, Chicago and the Los Angeles Lakers) coming against teams they are very capable of beating. Currently sitting with an 8-13 record, the time is now for Charlotte to start turning things around, especially with 10 of its next 13 games at Spectrum Center.
“To know that we’ve played so well here in Charlotte in front of our home fans is definitely a confidence booster,” said Marvin Williams on Monday morning. “Obviously, it’s a little disheartening what our road record is because you do have to go out on the road and win some games if you want to be considered a playoff team. To have 10 of 13 [games] here at home is exciting. We’re going to have to take them one at a time.”
With Kemba Walker (left shoulder) set to return against Orlando on Monday night following a two-game absence, the team also has a chance to finally start building some much-needed rotational continuity. It’s an opportunistic week for the Charlotte Hornets and they need to take full advantage of it.