Tom Sorensen

If Hornets intend to be more than a playoff annoyance, they’ll need to make changes

If the Charlotte Hornets are to improve this season, they’ll need someone other than Kemba Walker to consistently step up with the game on the line.
If the Charlotte Hornets are to improve this season, they’ll need someone other than Kemba Walker to consistently step up with the game on the line. AP

The Charlotte Hornets went winless on the five-game road trip they completed Monday. Two victories would have made the trip a success, but they couldn’t beat the Detroit Pistons and they couldn’t beat the Philadelphia 76ers. (The 76ers no longer are the 76ers, of course. Their 20-year plan finally is yielding results. They’ve won six of their past eight.)

Charlotte gets five consecutive games at home, beginning Wednesday with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Hornets, who are 20-21, are sub-.500 for the first time all season. At the halfway point, they are about where they should be, in a mad scramble for the last of the Eastern Conference playoff spots.

To improve, they have to play better defense, especially in the fourth quarter. Coach Steve Clifford often talks about toughness and defense, and late in the game, both qualities come undone.

If you read this column, you know I’m a fan of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. But he does not look like the player we saw two seasons ago.

Also, the Hornets need another scorer. When a game is close, when they absolutely require a basket, they go to Kemba Walker. The other players merely take turns joining him, and some nights nobody volunteers.

Clifford is a superior coach, and the Hornets have time to attend to their liabilities. This stretch of home games would be a fine time to start.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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