Charlotte Hornets

Terrible first-quarter shooting leads to Charlotte Hornets’ loss at Atlanta

Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford speaks about loss to Hawks

Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford discusses the Hornets' slow start against the Atlanta Hawks Sunday.
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Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford discusses the Hornets' slow start against the Atlanta Hawks Sunday.

It’s never easy overcoming such a gruesome start to an NBA game.

The Charlotte Hornets made just one of their first 19 shots Sunday afternoon, which led the Atlanta Hawks toward a lead of as many as 24 points. While the Hornets cut that deficit all the way to two, they could never take the lead in an 87-76 Hawks victory at Philips Arena.

The Hawks clinched a tiebreaker over the Hornets, taking the season series 3-1.

The Hornets’ top two scorers, Kemba Walker and Nic Batum, shot a combined 4-of-20 in this one. Hornets power forward Marvin Williams finished with 16 points. Point guard Jeremy Lin added 15 off the bench on 4-of-7 shooting from the field.

The Hornets (30-28) ended the game shooting 33 percent.

The Hawks (33-27) were led by center Al Horford with 13 points, 16 rebounds and six assists.

Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford discusses the Hornets' slow start against the Atlanta Hawks Sunday.

Three who mattered

Williams: His 3-point shooting (4-of-9) kept the Hornets in this game when most of his teammates were missing frequently.

Horford: The Hawks center had a huge rebounding day, grabbing Hornets misses for a double-double.

Kent Bazemore: Efficient scoring, generating 14 points off his first eight shots.

Observations

▪  Walker had quite a February; entering the matchup with the Hawks, he averaged 24.1 points on 46 percent shooting from the field in the month. He also averaged 3.3 3-pointers per game.

▪  Steve Clifford said pre-game the improvement of late has mostly been about defense. Entering Sunday the Hornets led the NBA in fewest points allowed (98.3) in February.

▪  Considering the Hornets missed 18 of their first 19 shots and trailed by as much as 24 points in the first half, it was a bit of a feat to trail by 14 at the half.

▪  Finally, the Hornets get off the road with Tuesday’s game in Time Warner Cable Arena against the Phoenix Suns.

▪  Nic Batum went scoreless on 0-of-3 shooting in the first half. Kemba Wallker shot 1-of-8 in the first half.

Worth mentioning

▪  Eight of the next nine games will be at Time Warner Cable Arena.

▪  One thing that kept the Hornets in this game was Hawks’ turnovers; through three quarters the Hornets converted 13 Atlanta turnovers into 15 Charlotte points.

▪  According to Elias Sports Bureau, the last time a team started a game 1-of-19 was a year ago nearly to the day. On Feb. 27, the Toronto Raptors shot that poorly versus the Golden State Warriors.

They said it

“They are professional athletes just like we are, so they are going to make tough shots.” – Atlanta’s Tim Hardaway Jr., on the Hornets cutting a 24-point deficit to two.

“In NBA games there are a lot of comebacks. Tonight wasn’t any different, but in the end our defense came through.” – Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer.

“We did a good job of getting back into the game. We just got off to a poor start.” – Hornets forward Marvin Williams.

Report card

D OFFENSE: The first-quarter shooting was dreadful. They avoided an “F” by being low-turnover.

C DEFENSE: They gave up a high field-goal percentage but mostly kept the Hawks off the foul line.

C COACHING: Steve Clifford is always wary of how his team will react to playing a day game.

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

 
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