‘It’s tough to score right now.’ Observations from the Hornets’ loss to the Bulls

Jonathan M. Alexander
·3 min read

The Hornets are struggling.

They’re struggling to score enough to win games. And on Thursday night, they had some trouble defending, too. It was their sixth loss in seven games.

Here are three observations from the Hornets’ 108-91 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Hornets not playing their best defense

P.J. Washington said it best Tuesday night.

“We’ve been allowing teams to get easy buckets, and for us, when that happens teams start to roll on us,” Washington said.

That happened again Thursday against the Bulls. The Bulls got out to an 8-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. The Hornets never led Thursday.

Why?

Their defense was not good enough. The Hornets will likely continue to struggle on the offensive end without LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward and Malik Monk, who are out with injuries. They’ve failed to reach 100 points in four of the past six games.

Devonte Graham led the Hornets with 16 points, but was 6 of 14 from the floor and 3 of 11 from 3. The Hornets were 8 of 31 from behind the 3-point line.

“It’s tough to score right now,” Hornets coach James Borrego said Thursday night.

But their defense must be better.

The Bulls shot 49% from the floor overall and outrebounded the Hornets 55-43. North Carolina native Coby White led the Bulls with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Nikola Vucevic finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds.

“I think now we just need to focus on the defensive end,” Hornets guard Caleb Martin said, ”and nights like tonight, when we’re not going to hit shots, we’ve got to let our defense win the game for us.”

More than a human highlight reel

It starting to feel like Miles Bridges will make ESPN’s “SportsCenter’s” Top 10 plays every night. He had another poster dunk on Thursday when he dunked over Vucevic in the second quarter. And while it wasn’t as flashy as his dunk against Clint Capela earlier this month, it will definitely get consideration as one of his best dunks of the year.

But Bridges has been more than dunks for the Hornets this season.

Bridges is averaging 18.9 points per game, 7.3 rebounds, shooting 44.7% from 3, and 52.4% from the floor overall through 12 games in April. He had 13 points and five rebounds Thursday.

“He’s a much better player than we saw him at this time last year,” Borrego said. “He deserves a lot of credit.”

He’s also the only Hornet to play in all 58 games this season.

Playoff watch

The Hornets are trying to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-16 season. With their sixth loss in seven games, the Hornets continue to slip in the playoff standings.

They are currently eighth in the Eastern Conference and have a one-game lead over the ninth-place Indiana Pacers. This season, the NBA will host a play-in tournament for teams that finish between seventh and 10th in the standings.

The ninth and 10th place teams must win two consecutive games to get into the first round as an eighth seed. The Hornets’ schedule doesn’t get much easier. Their next four games include the Cavaliers, the Bucks and the Celtics twice.

Here are the records of teams six through 11.

6. Celtics: 32-27

7. Heat: 31-28

8. Hornets: 28-30

9. Pacers: 27-31

10. Wizards: 25-33

11. Raptors: 25-34