There were two things we came to expect from the Charlotte Hornets this season, both because they were happening and because they had to happen to win:
Kemba Walker must be great and the rest of this roster must not throw the ball away.
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Ka-Boom on both fronts. The Hornets lost at home to the Los Angeles Lakers Saturday 128-100. Friday, they blew a lead of as much as 21, falling to the New York Knicks in overtime, 126-124.
Since halftime Friday, point guard Walker has shot 3-of-26 from the field and 1-of-14 from 3-point range. In that 51-minute span of playing time, Walker has scored all of seven points, including a season-low four against the Lakers.
That’s huge trouble for a team without a big-time second scoring option. And it gets worse:
The thing you could most count on from the Hornets this season was ball security. They’ve averaged the fewest turnovers in the NBA this season at 12.3 per game and the best assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.99.
How different the last two games have been: 34 turnovers, resulting in 48 opponent points.
That’s how you lose at home to one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference and that’s how you fall so far behind the Lakers Saturday that none of the Hornets starters played in the fourth quarter.
The Hornets have three days before they play their next game Wednesday at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers. There is so much to correct.
“We’re not going to overreact,” said coach James Borrego. “We’re going to get better on Monday and Tuesday, then come back Wednesday. That’s what we do. We respond.”
Don’t overreact? Sure. Don’t under-react, either.
This team has now slipped back below .500 at 14-15. Losing to the Lakers with LeBron James is certainly no disgrace, but getting pushed around at home one night after that epic collapse against a 9-21 Knicks team looks fragile.
Remember, this is the midpoint of a five-game home-stand. The Hornets are 1-2 so far in that group of games, which puts even more at stake on Wednesday against the Cavs and Friday against the Detroit Pistons.
The turnovers can be firmed up. I’d say the greater problem is getting Walker back to being an All-Star.
If he’s worn down, he won’t say so. Walker and Borrego were specifically asked that post-game.
“It’s hard to answer if it’s fatigue or not. I think he’s still competing at a high level,” Borrego said.
“I’m fine. I’m just off,” Walker said.. “It happens, man. I’m not going to be getting 40 and 30 (points) every single night. I’m not going to shoot the basketball every single night.
“I know I’ve had some great games, and that’s probably the expectation nowadays, but it happens.”
No one expects Walker to average 30. But it’s jarring just how unproductive he’s been since the Hornets led by 19 at the half Friday.
“When he was on the floor we just had to pay a lot of attention to him,” James said, “because he’s that special.”
He is special. He’ll be special again. But considering the Hornets will have burned through half their home games by the end of this month, the special better return pronto.