Wizards Top Tired Hornets
Playing their third game in four days, Al Jefferson and the Charlotte Hornets just didn’t have the energy they needed to handle the Washington Wizards Monday night.
Big Al did what he could in 29 minutes, scoring 14 points off 7-of-14 shooting while pulling in five rebounds and adding an assist, a steal and a block, but the Wiz tallied 36 points in the first quarter and cruised to a 95-69 victory.
The Hornets played five games in seven days, including three in the last four—and four of those seven came against teams fighting for playoff spots or seeding. However, The Postman isn’t using a tough slate as an excuse for the loss.
“This is why we get paid the big bucks,” Al said about the crammed schedule. “We can sit here and say we are fatigued, and it may be true, but we aren’t the only team in the NBA that has been through these type of situations. We can’t have that as an excuse. Every game counts, we can’t afford to have games like we had tonight.”
Mo Williams scored 19 points for Charlotte, the team shot just 32.5 percent (25 of 77) and committed 16 turnovers to tie its lowest-scoring game this season and end a five-game winning streak.
It was Charlotte’s eighth game in 13 nights, and the exhaustion showed. John Wall scored 15 points and had nine assists, and Marcin Gortat had 20 points and seven rebounds.
The Hornets are one of the best teams in the NBA at not allowing points in the paint, but in the past two contests they have been letting teams stroll right to the rim. Against Detroit the Buzz allowed 60 points in the paint, but they had the energy on offense to overcome those defensive miscues. On Monday night, the Hornets allowed 54 points in the paint, but they couldn’t come up with an answer on the other end.
“We played a tired game,” coach Steve Clifford said. “We never found the energy level we needed to make a real run at the game.”
When teams are tired, high shooting numbers from beyond the arc are good indicators of worn out legs. The Buzz had 22 attempts from beyond the arc and made just four.
With many of the main options off kilter, Lance Stephenson and Jason Maxiell did provide some energy from the bench.
Maxiell played in the second half after starting power forward Cody Zeller sprained his right shoulder in the first and missed the rest of the game. Meanwhile, Stephenson finished with 12 points, five assists and three rebounds, as he has picked up his play of late with the playoffs approaching.
“Just focus on defense and stay within the team and make great decisions to help the team win,” Stephenson said of his approach. “I’m just finding my groove. I’m playing with the team and starting to figure out my teammates. Everything has come easy for me (of late), being in attack mode and not worrying about missing shots.”
The Buzz had both of their last two meetings with the Wizards, but their slumping opponents, desperate for a win, just wouldn’t let that streak hit three.
“They were just more ready than we were,” Big Al said. “They had a game plan, and probably had a little bad taste in their mouth, and they showed it.”
Charlotte (28-34) will host the Sacramento Kings (21-41) on Wednesday night at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The team will have Tuesday off from practice to rest up for Wednesday night’s battle against DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay. Big Al will have to contend with Cousins, one of the league’s top young big men, who is averaging 23.4 points and 12.1 rebounds per game.
Sacramento will be hungry for a victory, riding a four-game losing streak into the contest—most recently a 130-105 drubbing at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks. This game will be the sixth in an eight-game road trip for the Kings.
This matchup will be the first time the two teams face off this season. Sacramento will host the Hornets on March 20.
Tip off for the first tilt in the Queen City is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.