The Charlotte Hornets’ Steve Clifford will have plenty to coach off the video of Thursday’s third quarter against the Boston Celtics.
The Hornets were seemingly in charge at halftime, leading by seven points and moving the ball smoothly on offense. And then they all but shut down both offensively and defensively in the first eight minutes of the second half. That ultimately resulted in a 107-92 preseason loss at the Greensboro Coliseum.
The Hornets allowed 40 Boston points in the third on 14-of-23 shooting from the field. Meanwhile, the Hornets made just eight of their 23 shots in the third and trailed 84-70 going into the fourth.
Clifford started emptying his bench with about seven minutes left. By then the only regulars in the game were Frank Kaminsky and Jeremy Lamb.
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Three who mattered
Marvin Williams: The Hornets’ starting power forward obviously had another productive offseason, because he looked in mid-season form Thursday.
Al Horford: The Celtics’ signee created matchup problems with his long-range shooting.
Jeremy Lamb: He finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists
▪ The Hornets got back point guard Kemba Walker, who sat out the first exhibition in Dallas to protect his surgically repaired left knee. Clifford planned to play Walker no more than eight to 10 minutes.
▪ Thursday’s exhibition was a big promotional opportunity for the Greensboro Swarm, the Hornets’ new Development League affiliate. It’s likely several players currently on the Hornets preseason roster will end up with the Swarm.
▪ Walker looked sharp in nine minutes to start the game with four points, three assists and two rebounds.
▪ The Hornets’ defense forced a Celtics shot-clock violation late in the first quarter, a good sign this early in the preseason..
▪ The Celtics locked arms in a unity salute during the national anthem. The Hornets did not .
▪ Cody Zeller (right knee), Brian Roberts (left hamstring) and Mike Tobey (left hamstring) sat out Thursday’s exhibition.
▪ The Hornets and Celtics have a preseason rematch Saturday afternoon at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.
▪ It was odd seeing Horford in a Celtics uniform after many years with the Atlanta Hawks.
They said it
“He hasn’t been able to play with contact all the time, but he’s been able to work out. He’s been in the gym constantly. His skills are even better than last season.” – Clifford on Walker’s return from knee surgery.
“We weren’t ready to play and that started with me. Boston was ready to play. They went out and dumped us early (in the second half) and we never got back.” – Williams.
“We tried to make a run. We couldn’t get over the hump and they pulled away.” – Lamb
“That defense was not even close to what you’d have to do to play competitively in an NBA game.” -- Clifford.
C+ OFFENSE: They shot 47 percent in the first half, but then all but shut down offensively the first eight minutes of the third quarter.
D DEFENSE: The transition defense was awful in the third quarter - layup after layup after layup.
C COACHING: It was only the second preseason exhibition, but it’s clear Clifford and staff have much to correct.
Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, @rick_bonnell