Hornets Finish Preseason, Now Need to Heal for Opening Night
The final preseason game for the Charlotte Hornets is now in the books and the countdown clock to Opening Night has officially started ticking with less than seven days to go.
Dallas steamrolled its way into town on Wednesday night and handed the hosts a head-turning 127-59 loss, marking the Hornets’ second blowout home defeat of the preseason. Terry Rozier (left ankle sprain), Gordon Hayward (Health and Safety Protocols) and Kelly Oubre Jr. (right ankle sprain) all sat out again, then Miles Bridges (right knee discomfort) exited the game in the first half and did not return.
Charlotte’s offense never found a rhythm in this one and finished the contest shooting a lowly 27% and 3-of-19 from three (16%) with 22 turnovers. Tim Hardaway Jr. (20 points) and Kristaps Porzingis (17) led a Mavericks squad that connected on 51% of its shots, while committing just 11 giveaways for a mere seven opposing points.
“We couldn’t score tonight,” said Head Coach James Borrego afterwards. “We dropped our heads defensively. We got a long way to go. Now we start 0-0. We cleanse it, move forward, get ready for practice on Friday and we play next Wednesday.”
Center Mason Plumlee was back in the lineup after missing the team’s last two outings (Health and Safety Protocols). He finished with four points and four rebounds, although getting on the floor and logging 24 minutes was a huge benefit in itself after missing the past week of action.
Obviously, the most pressing need for the team right now is getting healthy. Rozier, Hayward and Oubre combined to play in just four exhibition games and while these aren’t considered long-term absences, they’ve cost the team precious time to build continuity and chemistry. Only so much can be accomplished with constant abnormal playing groups and rotations in preseason.
“I didn’t anticipate these lineups, these rotations, but that’s okay,” added Borrego. “It’s preseason. There are areas we have to improve regardless. No matter what, the effort has to be there, the attention to detail has to be there. I didn’t anticipate this preseason – I can say that – but we start fresh and hopefully get some healthy bodies back on Friday.”
Borrego stated before the game that he believed Oubre was the closest to returning and that Rozier and Hayward are both still day-to-day. The Hornets had the benefit of working together extensively during the offseason before training camp started, something that is becoming more valuable by the day with next Wednesday’s opener against Indiana quickly approaching.