Three takeaways from the Charlotte Hornets’ 71-69 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Clifford’s candor: Some readers seemed taken aback by how bluntly Hornets coach Steve Clifford answered why he chose not to play shooting guard Lance Stephenson in the fourth quarter.
From the post-game interview:
“He just didn’t play very well. I coach to win. I went with the team that played the best. The guys that know what they’re doing out there and played the best are the guys that played. The guys that continue to play like that will be the guys that play.”
Clifford has been coaching that way since just before the All-Star break in February. It started the night of a loss to the Brooklyn Nets. By then they had a shot at the playoffs and Clifford told his players he wasn’t obligated to play anyone for “developmental” reasons.
To me Saturday’s comments were consistent with that approach. Stephenson struggled in his first two games back from a groin strain, and Clifford was going with the player best prepared to help win a game (in this case Gary Neal, who made three of five fourth-quarter shots for eight points).
Williams’ foul trouble: Power forward Marvin Williams got in quick foul trouble against the Grizzlies and finished the game with five personals, one short of disqualification.
That’s going to happen occasionally, particularly against a big, physical team like the Grizzlies. At 6-9 and 237 pounds, Williams isn’t the burliest of power forwards (he’s a power forward/small forward hybrid, really). So he doesn’t naturally match up with either Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol. Hence the fouls.
As a result Williams and backup Cody Zeller played just about the same minutes Saturday.
Kidd-Gilchrist’s confidence: Small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist generated 11 points off just four shots from the field. That was a function of getting to the foul line 10 times. He also grabbed 12 rebounds.
It’s so obvious this early season that Kidd-Gilchrist’s confidence has soared of late. Maybe that’s about improving his jump shot or it could be something more general – realizing his place in the NBA two-plus seasons into his career.