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Desperate for results, Hornets shorten bench and go small
Batum boosts reserves, but wins elusive
Published Saturday, December 16, 2017 9:46 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

Playing big isn’t an option for the Charlotte Hornets.

A lack of depth and injuries is forcing them to use smaller personnel when center Dwight Howard isn’t on the court.

“For now, I’m going to shorten my rotation a little bit, because we need some wins,” interim head coach Stephen Silas said. “It’s not time to develop or gift minutes. Right now, it’s about winning, and my rotation is going to be short for a little while, just until we get this thing back on track.”

As a result, Charlotte does not have a true second unit. Silas’ solution has been to leave a starter in the rotation – particularly guard Nic Batum, who scored 23 points in Saturday’s 93-91 loss against Portland, and tallied five points and 10 assists in a 104-98 loss to Miami Friday. Saturday’s game marked Batum’s first 20-point game of the season (his previous high of 17 against Minnesota).  

“I’ve been the one who has been the most frustrated about the way I played, because I knew I could do more than that,” Batum said. “I was trying to adjust myself to the other guys way too much, when sometimes I have to let them adjust to me.”

Said Silas: “He played at a great pace. He went into the post some, which he hadn’t been doing lately. He was aggressive in asking for the ball.”

While Batum, who missed the first 12 games of the season with a sprained left elbow, isn’t fully healthy, still provides more consistency and efficiency than others.

“I told the coaches...let me run this team, and I tried to do that,” Batum said.

Said Silas: “He’s been out for a while, and hopefully this is the start of him having some rhythm in his game, because we’re going to need it.”

Charlotte’s rotation shortcomings expose the lack of a “mentality of progress” – something coach Steve Clifford claimed essential in September for the team to succeed after failing to make the playoffs last season. That mentality has evaded the Hornets’ second unit for the last two seasons, which shows in their10-19 record. It took Charlotte four games to reach .500 and have been there three times this season, but have remained below break-even since Nov. 7. They stand 2-6 under Silas, who stepped in for Clifford on Dec. 4.  

“The taste is really, really bad right now,” Batum said. “Especially at this time – it’s Christmas time. We don’t want to face Christmas like that, thinking that ‘you suck,’ and you have to go through that. You want to face Christmas with your family, in good spirits ”


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