The Hornets‘ offense was clicking before LaMelo Ball‘s ankle injury on Monday, but now coach Steve Clifford needs to find a new approach for the rest of the season, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. The team scored just 91 points Wednesday as its five-game winning streak was snapped, marking just the fourth time since December that it failed to reach 100.
“It’s important that we understand that once you have a way to play, you’ve got to commit to that,” Clifford said after Wednesday’s loss. “From now to the end of the year, we’re not going to be scoring 135 a night anymore. We’ll play a lot better than this offensively, but we’re going to have to defend, rebound and be low turnover every night.”
Terry Rozier has taken over for Ball as the starting point guard in the two games since the injury, with Kelly Oubre sliding into the backcourt as his partner. The first guard off the bench has been Dennis Smith Jr., who has shown a notable improvement on defense since signing with the Hornets last offseason.
“I was out of the league because I got waived because (of injury and) I couldn’t play for the rest of the season, and going into the summer I didn’t have a deal or anything in place,” Smith said. “So everybody was like, ‘Oh, he can’t play, he’s not an NBA player.’ This, that and the third. It didn’t really mean much to me when they saying that because I know who I am. But to be able to come in and prove the people that believe in me right, I think that means a lot.”
There’s more from Charlotte:
- Rookie guard Bryce McGowens had his two-way contract converted to a standard deal this week, but his play of late hasn’t matched his promotion, Boone writes in another Observer article. McGowens opted for extra practice time after Friday’s game, in which he misfired badly on two of his three shot attempts. “I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s the rookie wall,” McGowens said. “I would say it’s just getting back to the basics and the stretch that I had in midseason, just getting back to that, staying confident. I feel like these past couple of games it wasn’t there and I feel that.”
- In a recent appearance on the Hornets Nest podcast, Gordon Hayward characterized his time with the franchise as “unlucky.” He notes that Charlotte has been plagued by numerous injuries since he was traded there in 2020.
- P.J. Washington is listed as probable for Sunday after missing the last four games with a foot injury, Boone tweets.