Charlotte Hornets

Turnovers, transition defense leave the Hornets 0-2

Marvin Williams pre-game warmup

Hornets forward Marvin Williams first out for for warmup
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Hornets forward Marvin Williams first out for for warmup

The past two seasons being a team that minimized turnovers and always got back on defense served the Charlotte Hornets fairly well.

So far in a 0-2 start to the regular season, they aren’t keeping to those principles. The Hornets committed 20 turnovers and allowed the Atlanta Hawks 21 fast-break points in a 97-94 loss at Philips Arena.

The Hornets will meet the Hawks again Sunday at 2 p.m. at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte’s home opener. The Hawks, who had the best regular-season record in the Eastern Conference last season, are quick and highly skilled. They’re well-equipped to exploit the sloppiness the Hornets demonstrated Friday.

Jeremy Lin and Marvin Williams made 3-pointers late to cut what had been a 14-point deficit to two with a minute left. Then Hawks forward Paul Millsap scored on a tap-in with 36 seconds left.

Kemba Walker missed a desperation 3-pointer that would have thrown the game into overtime.

Three who mattered

Kent Bazemore: The Hawks small forward isn’t known primarily for his offense, but he poured in 19 points and made four 3-pointers.

Jeremy Lamb: He made a solid debut as a Hornet, hitting four of eight shots for 11 points off the bench.

P.J. Hairston: For the second straight game he went 1-of-5 from the field and 1-of-4 from 3-point range.

Observations

▪  The Hornets got back shooting guard Lamb, who had missed the past two weeks with an ankle sprain. Lamb tested the ankle in practice Thursday and shootaround Friday. With Lamb back (and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out long-term) the only open injury question is Troy Daniels’ hamstring.

▪  While the Hornets’ ball-movement looked much improved in the preseason, the team has committed a shot-clock violation in each of its first two games.

▪  The Hawks chose not to play shooting guard Kyle Korver Friday to rest the ankle he injured in the playoffs. So the Hawks started a two-point guard backcourt of Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder. That might have been one of the quickest backcourts in NBA history.

▪  Nicolas Batum makes some big plays, but he also committed seven turnovers.

▪  Korver figures to play Sunday afternoon in the rematch in Charlotte, the Hornets home opener.

Worth mentioning

▪  For a team that played a nationally-televised game in New York Thursday, the Hawks looked plenty fresh at tip-off Friday.

▪  It’s pretty much an NBA standard for the dance teams to do some sort of “Thriller” takeoff at Halloween. Must say Atlanta mascot Harry the Hawk pulled this one off quite well.

▪  If the Hawks’ 60 victories last season caught Atlanta’s imagination, you couldn’t tell so by attendance Friday. One side of the arena, where most of the premium seating is, was scarcely used.

Report card

D OFFENSE: Those 20 turnovers negated the impact of making 12 3-pointers Friday.

C- DEFENSE: The Hawks are a fine fast-break team, but the Hornets just don’t get back in transition consistently.

C- COACHING: Clifford has to figure out how to reprogram what have been some self-destructive habits in the season’s first two games.

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell

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