Another Slow Start Sets Tone in Hornets Loss
Ball Scores Season-High 30 PTS; Early Woes Continue for Charlotte
Across the opening two weeks of the 2021-22 season, the Charlotte Hornets’ high-octane offensive attack has masked a majority of the team’s deficiencies. The most glaring weakness reared its ugly head again on Monday night though, as another lackluster start paved the way for a 113-110 home loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The visitors were everywhere defensively in the opening quarter, turning eight Charlotte turnovers into 12 points to help take a 40-21 lead by the end of the first. Cleveland continued to respond to every Hornets rally over the ensuing three frames and then survived a late barrage of shots to squeak out a three-point win.
“The turnovers obviously hurt us,” said Hornets Head Coach James Borrego following the loss. “The offense was probably the biggest problem. We had eight turnovers in one quarter and that’s what created all the offense for them. [We allowed] forty points in the first quarter and won the second, third and fourth quarters. We just dug ourselves too big a hole.”
LaMelo Ball worked his way around more early foul trouble to finish with a game-high 30 points (25 in the second half) on 12-of-22 shooting, seven rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks in the loss. Big men Jarrett Allen (24 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks) and rookie Evan Mobley (15 points and 10 rebounds) each double-doubled for the Cavaliers.
Charlotte conceded 27 total points off 17 turnovers, the early ones being a combination of Cleveland’s length mixed with careless “home-run passes,” according to Borrego. But perhaps the most significant disparity between the two sides came at the free-throw line; Cleveland went 26-of-38 (68%), while the hosts were just 11-of-15 (73%) for a 23-attempt differential.
The Hornets have now trailed by double figures in the first half in all but two of their eight games this season. Some nights shots just aren’t falling, sometimes it’s the defense and physicality, tonight it was the turnovers. There simply hasn’t been a common denominator as to why exactly Charlotte has struggled to get out of the gates recently.
“We just have to have a better sense of urgency,” said Miles Bridges. “I feel like we come out too lackadaisical thinking teams are just going to give us a lead, then they come out and hit us in the face first. We have to do a better job of taking the first hit.”
The start of a five-game all-Western Conference road trip now awaits the Hornets this Wednesday night, when they square off against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco beginning at 10 PM ET.