Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford learned from one of his mentors, Jeff Van Gundy, that it’s better to skip practice when your players are too worn out to practice well.
Clifford gave players the day off Saturday; their first complete day away from team activities. Sunday’s practice, before the team flew to Miami, was the best of this preseason.
“A lot of energy and really good purpose of play,” Clifford said. “Sometimes you need a day off mentally, too, and that really showed today. A lot of times after a day off, the first half-hour to 45 minutes is not good. Today, right from the get-go, they were ready and we did a lot of good things.
“Jeff used to say it’s better not to practice than to practice poorly. You’re trying to build good team habits. When you have the right intensity and effort, it shows.”
Clifford has praised his team often over the previous three seasons for how hard and well they practice. Sunday, Clifford mentioned Hornets owner and Hall of Fame player Michael Jordan as a factor.
“You play for an owner who is very involved in player-personnel decisions, who values character, unselfish play and working hard,” Clifford said.
“Do you play together? Do you try to hit the open man? Those are the things he sees in players, because that’s what wins in this league. We have a very high-character team, and he’s a big part of that.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell