For everything that went wrong during the Charlotte Hornets’ 129-111 beatdown at the hands of the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night, perhaps the only positive takeaway was Jeremy Lamb.
Not perhaps – Lamb’s career night was the only good thing to come out of Wednesday’s shellacking. Lamb scored a career-high 32 points on 11-of-17 shooting in one of the only solid performances from a Hornets player. At one point in the first half, Lamb had nearly half his team’s points, and by nearly, that means 19 of the group’s 40.
Now, there were other Hornets players who scored double figures (like Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard, who each scored 15), but points scored can be deceptive. They don’t show efficiency, or game flow, or honestly reveal much. After all, the Hornets still lost by double digits, so what does it matter how many those two stars scored?
What does matter is that on a night where everything was clicking for Lamb, everything else was turned off for his teammates.
Basically, the team wasted its breakout player’s breakout game.
“It’s bittersweet,” acting head coach Stephen Silas said. “As someone who works with Jeremy a lot and someone who worked with him all summer, it’s great to see him have a game the way that he had and score 32 points and be a go-to guy, really.”
Lamb’s evolution this season has been well-documented. The 2012 first-round pick took time to adjust to the professional game, but now in his third season in Charlotte, he’s developed into a reliable first bench option. Along with Frank Kaminsky, Lamb is really one of the leader’s of the team’s second unit.
“You never want anybody to have a career night on a loss, especially a bad loss,” Marvin Williams said. “But he had a hell of a game. Take nothing away from him from what he accomplished tonight, no matter if we won or lost.”
The thing is, Lamb couldn’t care less about his career night if his team is getting blown out. Wednesday’s contest was determined in the middle of the third quarter, or if you’re a fan, somewhere between taking a bathroom break and grabbing a bucket of popcorn. That sort of blowout, no matter how spectacular any one player is, robs the night of its accomplishment, at least according to Lamb.
“It’s tough. You want to come out and play well, but it doesn’t feel good when you don’t win,” Lamb said. “Last game I had nine points but we won, and last game felt a lot better.”
As for Lamb’s actual game, he flashed a little bit of everything offensively: 3-pointers, contested layups, free throws, even floaters.
The most shocking thing was that while everyone else around him was struggling (Nic Batum, for example, only took one shot and missed it), Lamb was consistently good ... not that it matters to him.
“We were really struggling offensively and I was just going to him play, after play, after play,” Silas said, “and he was producing.”
But in something of a metaphor for this season, the Hornets’ individual efforts and names on paper didn’t translate directly into a win on Wednesday. No matter how many shots one guy makes, if the team holds an ‘L’ at the end of the night, especially one as heavy as this Raptors loss, it’s all for naught.
So yes, the Hornets wasted Lamb’s career night, his breakout game in a breakout season.
Now all they can do is hope not to waste his entire breakout year.