This was the Charlotte Hornets’ last preseason exhibition, and the plan at the outset of training camp was to treat it as a dress rehearsal.
Then injuries and a personal absence conspired to scuttle that. With Nic Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeremy Lamb and Michael Carter-Williams all unavailable, coach Steve Clifford used a mix-and-match lineup in a 111-96 victory against the Dallas Mavericks.
If nothing else, this was another opportunity to get the rookies – Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon – plenty of preseason minutes, because Monk definitely and Bacon probably will be in the rotation at the regular season’s outset. Clifford is improvising, particularly at the three perimeter positions. Point guard Kemba Walker (18 points) had no true backup in the last two games of the preseason.
Mavericks rookie, and former N.C. State point guard, Dennis Smith Jr. just missed a double-double with 10 points and nine assists.
Three who mattered
Walker: He looked regular season-ready in the first half, attacking the rim so aggressively.
Harrison Barnes: The Mavs small forward, and former North Carolina star, got to the foul line eight times in the first half.
Frank Kaminsky: He made his first four 3-point attempts, which is great for stretching defenses.
▪ This was an early start – 6 p.m. – and Spectrum Center looked about one-third full.
▪ The Hornets will get a day off Saturday, then have three days of practice in preparation for Wednesday night’s regular-season opener, in Detroit.
▪ Rookie Dwayne Bacon got another start, with Jeremy Lamb injured. He’s still adjusting to NBA defensive rotations; was way late getting to the Mavs’ Dirk Nowitzki in the first quarter.
▪ The Hornets experimented with livestreaming a telecast of this preseason exhibition on hornets.com.
▪ Clifford got a technical foul in the second half.
▪ Hornets small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is still away from the team, tending to a personal issue.
▪ Hornets point guard Julyan Stone, who was listed as questionable with a sore hamstring, sat out this final preseason exhibition.
▪ Seth Curry, who grew up in Charlotte and played for Duke, did not make the trip with the Mavericks. He is out with a stress reaction in his left leg.
B- OFFENSE: Turnovers (22 Friday) have been a problem throughout this preseason
B DEFENSE: The rebounding – 50 for the Hornets, 37 for the Mavericks – was a needed improvement
B COACHING: It’s so hard with all these injuries to get any continuity this preseason.
Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, @rick_bonnell