Tom Sorensen

The missing piece to the Charlotte Hornets puzzle isn’t on the bench

The Los Angeles Lakers' Brandon Ingram, right – 6-9 and 190 pounds –rolled inside against Charlotte to score 18 points and pull down six rebounds.
The Los Angeles Lakers' Brandon Ingram, right – 6-9 and 190 pounds –rolled inside against Charlotte to score 18 points and pull down six rebounds. AP

The Charlotte Hornets are a baffling team. They lose two at home to teams they should have beaten, first the Chicago Bulls and then the Los Angeles Lakers. Charlotte's starters are fine. But when the reserves come in, there’s often a JV feel to them.

Like Cody Zeller, big man Frank Kaminsky was not available in either loss. The Hornets need him. They especially need him if he’s willing to go to the basket. The man can do this. And if a defense converges, he can pass. He had three assists, third highest on the team, in Charlotte’s surprising 116-103 victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday in Oklahoma City.

I also like rookie reserve Malik Monk. But he roams the court as if he’s looking for the perfect shot. You can see him thinking. The guy can shoot, I promise. He needs to loosen up and let it go.

The Hornets have talent, but they’re flawed. Nic Batum, who does everything well but nothing exceptionally, is a liability. His elbow injury lingers. He didn’t play Monday.

The Oklahoma City victory was Charlotte’s second on the road this season. All five starters scored in double figures. The Hornets shot 53.1 percent from the field, 52percent on 3s.

So all they have to do to win is hit everything. They led Oklahoma City by as many as 20 points.

Let’s assume they simply had a great night shooting. They’ll have to find other ways to win. Opponents thus far are like old people ... and the lane is their lawn. Stay off it. The Hornets often comply. The Lakers’ Brandon Ingram, formerly of Duke, is 6-9 and 190 pounds. He’s skinny. Yet he scored 18 points and added six rebounds against Charlotte. He rolled inside and the Hornets rolled over.

After the Thunder victory, the Hornets were 10-16. They are almost a third of the way into the season and we still don’t know who they are. We see the talent. If they can acquire the discipline with which they customarily play defense, they can salvage this season.

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

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