Charlotte Hornets

Turnovers again down the Hornets, this time in road loss to Clippers

If the Charlotte Hornets can’t limit their turnovers this season, they at least must limit how opponents exploit those mistakes.

The Los Angeles Clippers feasted on Charlotte turnovers Monday, scoring 33 points off 22 Hornets giveaways in a 111-96 victory at Staples Center.

The Hornets have hovered around 19 turnovers this regular season in starting 1-3.

Kawhi Leonard, who signed with the Clippers over the summer after leading the Toronto Raptors to the NBA championship, finished with 30 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Terry Rozier had 17 points for the Hornets and Malik Monk added 15.

Good buzz

Monk had gone scoreless his prior two games, which totaled 34 minutes when he went 0-of-7 from the field. He so needed the first half he had, making all four of his shots from the field for nine points in 11 minutes.

Before the game, coach James Borrego said Monk is hurt by Nic Batum being out with a broken finger. Borrego said Batum provides so much ballhandling to the second unit that it frees Monk to just score.

Bee stings

The Clippers entered this game leading the NBA in offensive efficiency, but that doesn’t explain away just how bad the Hornets’ transition defense was in the first half. Giving up 15 fast-break points was partially a reflection of the Hornets’ 11 first-half turnovers, but they can’t afford to make things so easy for a team that already averages 125 points.

Building blocks

Miles Bridges often mentions how he relishes challenges, tougher the better. He will never be more tested than guarding LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard on back-to-back nights. Fitting rookie P.J. Washington into the starting lineup has Bridges switching back-and-forth between small and power forward. Bridges is fine with that, and the spectrum of players he now must guard is an education in his second season.

Beyond the numbers

Before the game, Borrego said he’d like to find center Willy Hernangomez some minutes. But really the onus is on Hernangomez to earn those minutes, and he’s had plenty of chances over the past 1 1/2 seasons in Charlotte.

Borrego is playing veterans Bismack Biyombo and Marvin Williams behind Cody Zeller at center. Hernangomez is far younger than either one, and he’s gotten the benefit of the doubt because of that. But Hernangomez’s defense generally limits how much Borrego can use him. He played in only one of the Hornets’ first three games.

Rick Bonnell is a sportswriter/columnist for the Charlotte Observer. He has been in Charlotte since 1988, when the NBA arrived, and has covered the Hornets continuously. A former president of the Pro Basketball Writers Association, Bonnell also writes occasionally on the NFL and college sports.
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