Hornets' Clifford ahead of Cavaliers game
The Charlotte Hornets’ four-game road winning streak died Wednesday on turnovers and poor rebounding.
The Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland Cavaliers pulled out to a 20-point lead with just under nine minutes left to secure a 114-103 victory at Quicken Loans Arena.
Cleveland’s takeaway defense was particularly efficient Wednesday, converting the Hornets’ first 11 turnovers into 20 Cavaliers points. They also dominated the boards in the first half, outrebounding the Hornets 28-20.
The Hornets (29-27) had struggled on the road most of this season, but turned that around of late with victories over the Lakers, Pacers, Bucks and Nets, all away from Time Warner Cable Arena. But they still don’t appear to be ready to pull off a victory over an elite team away from Charlotte.
The Hornets continue this three-game road trip against the Pacers Friday and the Atlanta Hawks Sunday.
Three who mattered
Kyrie Irving: The ease with which the former Duke point guard scored Wednesday was quite impressive.
Kemba Walker: A big third quarter gave him his 19th game of 20 or more points in the last 26.
LeBron James: It’s so much harder for the Hornets to contain him now, with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out for the season.
▪ Hornets rookie Frank Kaminsky showed his offensive versatility in his first two minutes Wednesday, hitting two 3s and driving by Tristan Thompson for a layup.
▪ The Hornets no longer have the luxury of starting off with someone other than Nic Batum guarding LeBron James. Kidd-Gilchrist’s shoulder injury and trading P.J. Hairston dried up those options.
▪ Cleveland power forward Kevin Love was all but invisible in this game with eight points and two rebounds.
▪ Is there an NBA team that complains about calls more than the Cavaliers?
▪ Lots had to go right for the Hornets to stay in this matchup. Being outrebounded 28-20 in the first half was a major setback.
▪ Center Spencer Hawes missed his third consecutive game with a sore lower back. Since he wouldn’t play much right now behind Cody Zeller and Al Jefferson, might as we be deliberate in getting him well.
▪ The Cavaliers played without guard Iman Shumpert, out with a left shoulder sprain.
▪ No Hornets starter reached double-figures scoring in the first half.
B OFFENSE: They shot OK, but some particularly sloppy passes led to mid-court, live-ball turnovers you can’t afford against the Cavaliers.
D DEFENSE: Cleveland stars James and Irving did pretty much whatever they wanted at the offensive end.
C COACHING: It would have been a lot to ask to win this one after the Hornets beat the Cavs in Charlotte. But this game was over with nine minutes left.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell