Charlotte Hornets: Shooting Woes Doom Them Against Hawks

Feb 28, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (15) shows emotion against the Atlanta Hawks in the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 28, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (15) shows emotion against the Atlanta Hawks in the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

Bad shooting helped the Charlotte Hornets drop a crucial game to the rival Atlanta Hawks on Sunday afternoon.

To say that that the Charlotte Hornets got off to a bad start Sunday afternoon would be an understatement. It’s like saying it’s only slightly ridiculous that The Hateful Eight was not nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. That movie was as awesome as Charlotte’s shooting was terrible in the first half of their matinee meeting with the Atlanta Hawks.

The Hornets started the first quarter 1-for-15 from the field. That’s not a typo. They knocked down one of their first 15 field goal attempts. They couldn’t hit water if they fell off the Titanic. It was like the exact opposite of what Stephen Curry does on a nightly basis. At the end of the quarter they found themselves down 25-9. That’s right, nine points in a quarter.

At one point in the first half they even missed five free throws in a row. Somehow, after a 9-for-41 shooting performance, the Hornets were only down 46-32 at halftime. Marvin Williams‘ hot three-point shooting helped them whittle Atlanta’s 24-point lead down to 14, keeping Charlotte in the game. So you’re telling me there’s a chance!

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The second half was a different story, for a bit, then more sadness. The Hornets finally woke up and gave the Hawks a run for their money, but it wasn’t enough. It got as close as 72-70, but Atlanta won the game 87-76. When you dig yourself that deep of a hole it takes a Herculean effort to come back and just make the game close.

Charlotte just didn’t have enough left in the tank when it was all said and done. Atlanta’s win means they have clinched the season series against the Hornets. That could come in handy for the Hawks if a tiebreaker is needed at the end of the season.

Kemba Walker had his worst game in a few months. His jumper was nowhere to be found, and he didn’t get to the free-throw line enough to compensate for his wayward shot. He shot 3-for-15, scoring only nine points in 41 minutes. For better or for worse, the Hornets have become reliant on his 20 points per game. Sunday he didn’t have his fastball and it showed.

Nicolas Batum’s streaky shooting also reared its ugly head. Batum finished the game with two points on 1-for-6 shooting and was 0-for-4 from three-point range. As a team Charlotte shot 33 percent for the game, but there were a few bright spots.

Williams led the team with 16 points on four made three-pointers. Jeremy Lin played well off the bench, especially in the fourth quarter. Lin had 15 points on 4-for-7 from the floor and 6-for-7 from the free-throw line. However, he only played 21 minutes.

It would have been nice to see Steve Clifford rely on Lin, Courtney Lee, and Jeremy Lamb (nine points on 4-of-8 shooting) during a game when Batum and Walker were struggling. Sometimes riding the hot hand is the right move.

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It was obviously an upsetting loss for Hornets fans when you consider just how poorly they started the game. A first quarter that was merely bad, rather than an outright disaster, would have required a less exhausting comeback effort and might have left them with enough in the tank late to come away with the victory.

This game was an opportunity for Charlotte to nab back-to-back wins over Eastern Conference playoff contenders. Wins over Indiana and Atlanta in the same weekend would have served as a statement that the Hornets don’t just want to get into the playoffs, they want to improve their seeding and become a force to be reckoned with. But, it was not to be.

It doesn’t kill their playoff hopes. The Hornets are still right in the thick of things, it’s just a setback. The Hawks are a better team and they were at home. Such is life.

Coming into the game, Charlotte held a 7-2 record in the month of February. This month has seen them climb to 30-28 on the season and back into a playoff spot. However, March may be the month that determines whether or not they get into the postseason.

They play 10 home games next month, and have several contests against NBA cellar dwellers like the Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers (twice), Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Denver Nuggets, and Brooklyn Nets. Beating up on bad teams in March could be their ticket to the playoffs.

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If they don’t take advantage of this easy stretch then get ready for all the crying Jordan memes that Twitter can handle. Of course, if they shoot like they did against Atlanta for the rest of the season they might as well put up a crying Jordan poster at Time Warner Cable Arena.