It took four summer league appearances, but Charlotte Hornets guard P.J. Hairston rediscovered his game.
Entering Wednesday, Hairston had made just 3-of-17 attempts from 3-point range. But against the Orlando Magic’s split squad, Hairston made 4 of 7 , finishing with 14 points and six rebounds during the Hornets’ 81-68 loss.
Though Hairston is still shooting 33 percent from the field and 29 percent from 3, Wednesday felt like progress.
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“I’ve been playing a little low, I haven’t been playing well. Since Troy (Daniels) was out it was up to me, Frank (Kaminsky) and Aaron (Harrison) to step up today,” Hairston said.
The Hornets fell to 1-3 in this five-game league. The Magic’s white team, made up of players from the NBA’s Development League and overseas, built a quick double-digit lead and dominated throughout.
Hornets associate head coach Patrick Ewing, in charge of the team, said his players looked tired after he played the starters heavy minutes during Tuesday’s victory against the Brooklyn Nets. Daniels, who has been the Hornets’ leading scorer, missed the game with a strained right shoulder.
Hairston indicated he’s been pressing this week, trying to make a good impression to start his second season.
“I feel like I hit some shots today. I got into a rhythm. I just wanted to take thing slower,” Hairston said. “I think I’ve been rushing myself too much in those first few games. I know I’m capable of doing better. I showed today I’m capable of knocking down shots and rebounding the ball.”
The Hornets committed 18 turnovers, four by Hairston.
“We turned it over a lot as a team and I turned it over too much,” Hairston said. “That’s something we need to work on.
“I feel like I was trying to do too much. I don’t feel pressured, but I feel like I need to be one of the leaders since this is my second year. I’ve had that first-year experience, and I know what’s going on. Of course I need to play better. I started off moving too fast and today I started off a little slower, trying to get everyone else involved, rather than worry about getting myself going.”
The Hornets trailed by as many as 19 points, which forced Ewing to go small with his lineup in an attempt to get back in the game. Charlotte trimmed the deficit to eight in the second half but never looked viable to win.
“I played them a lot of minutes last game and that probably had something to do with it. Also Troy not playing definitely hurt us,” Ewing said. “He’s been our best player so far.”
Ewing said he’s hopeful Daniels will be available for Friday’s final game. The time and opponent will be determined by Thursday’s results.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell