The Charlotte Hornets had won five straight, and if you were in the mood to believe they could make a run at the playoffs, you were entitled, even though four of the victories had come against sub .500 teams.
And then they began to play adult teams, teams with winning records. They’ve lost all four.
The game that hurt most was the second of those four losses on the road last week. Charlotte led Philadelphia by 14 and was up by six when the fourth quarter begun. Then they came undone. The carnage was tough to watch. The 76ers outscored the Hornets by 17 in the fourth quarter and won by 11.
Charlotte played Philadelphia again Tuesday night, this time at Spectrum Arena. Kemba Walker had an uncharacteristically poor night and was never a factor offensively. No rally was required. Philadelphia won 128-114. For At one juncture, the Hornets had almost as many technical fouls as they did points.
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One number: Philadelphia’s starters scored 89 points, Charlotte’s 63. One more: Philadelphia hit 16 of 33 3-pointers. It was like room service.
PHILADELPHIA; I’d like to order an open 3.
CHARLOTTE; Coming right up.
On Wednesday, Charlotte trailed the Miami Heat, which holds the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, by six games. Both have 17 games remaining.
Seven of the 17 games Charlotte has remaining are against teams with a winning record. Nine of the 17 games Miami has remaining are against teams with a winning record.
If the Hornets are going to win, they have to win now. Eight of their next 10 opponents have sub .500 records. Then they get, in a row, Cleveland, Washington and Philadelphia.
The Hornets might have another run in them. But to mount even a threat against Miami, they have to defend. They don't do that consistently, and they didn't Tuesday.