Nothing new about how the Charlotte Hornets lost Monday -- 3-point defense.
For the sixth time this season, the Hornets gave up 20 or more 3s. This time it was 24 by the Portland Trail Blazers in a 123-111 road loss.
The Hornets are 2-3 on this West Coast road trip.
Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball had 30 points and eight rebounds, making 5 3s. But the Blazers took a 19-point lead in the second half. with Carmelo Anthony scoring 29 off the bench.
Observations off the game:
Hayward, Zeller, Graham out again
The Hornets were again without three of their top seven players: Gordon Hayward (hand contusion), Cody Zeller (hip contusion) and Devonte Graham (left knee cap soreness).
Graham missed his sixth consecutive game, and it seems likely he miss Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves -- the last game before All-Star break.
Hayward and Zeller both were out for Sunday’s victory in Sacramento. They were downgraded from doubtful to out about 90 minutes before tip-off in Portland.
Cody Martin back into starting lineup
Cody Martin replaced Hayward in the starting lineup against the Blazers after Jalen McDaniels made his first start against the Kings Sunday.
At 6-foot-10, McDaniels provides more size than the 6-7 Martin, but Martin is the more experienced and physical defender.
For the second straight game, only nine Charlotte players were available. That seemed to be a bigger challenge offensively; with leading scorer Hayward and Graham out, it was a challenge for coach James Borrego to give LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier breaks; if one or the other wasn’t on the floor to orchestrate the offense, things broke down.
Blazers all about iso ball
The Hornets and Trail Blazers are about as different as two NBA offenses can be, illustrated by their assists. The Hornets are third in assists per game at 27 and the Blazers are last (30th) at 19.9
Particularly with C.J McCollum injured, Portland’s offense is mostly Lillard or Carmelo Anthony isolating, to break down a defender one-on-one.
The Hornets have to constantly swing the ball to be efficient offensively, especially now with Hayward not available to bail them out of possessions late in shot clocks.
Overdue break soon enough
The Hornets will consider the All-Star break, following Wednesday’s game in Minneapolis, so welcome considering how banged up they’ve been of late.
Monday was the 14th consecutive game when they had one or more of their top seven players unavailable, and typically it’s been two or more.