|The good: Cody Zeller returns. The bad: Hornets blow game.|
|20-point lead evaporates in 117-115 loss to Clippers|
|Published Tuesday, February 5, 2019 10:22 pm|
|The Hornets blew a 20-point lead in a 117-115 loss to the Clippers Tuesday.|
It is the same song and dance for the Charlotte Hornets.
Four games ahead of the All-Star break, they need to start finding ways to get above .500 and stay there. Tuesday’s 117-115 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers (30-25) marked their final home game before the break, which put them at 26-27.
Despite a 20-point lead in the third quarter, Charlotte couldn’t figure out how to finish.
“No matter where you are at in the season you want to close out those games,” coach James Borrego said.
Said guard Jeremy Lamb, who finished with 22 points and four rebounds: “I never really was concerned, ‘oh, we’ve gotta get above .500. That’s not my focus. My focus is us getting better, playing the right way, and everything will take care of itself.”
Center Cody Zeller made his 2019 debut after fracturing his right hand on New Year’s Eve and missing 16 games.. While Zeller wore a glove during the first half – Borrego brought him in in midway through the first quarter – Zeller played without it in the second. He finished with six points, 11 boards and two assists.
“Didn’t feel like I needed the glove as much,” Zeller said. “As far as my game shape, I felt really good. All I’ve been able to do is run the past few weeks, so my conditioning felt really good.”
Charlotte went 8-8 in 2019 without Zeller, and stand 18-18 with him. His presence offers a welcome change of pace, allowing his teammates to benefit in the pick and roll.
“He hadn’t played in a while,” Lamb said. “He had double-digit rebounds. He did what he does—setting great screens, brought energy—just sucks we couldn’t get the win.”
Said Borrego: “He played well. He had a lot of energy, impacted the game. He was very effective on both ends of the floor. Bismack [Biyombo, who started at center] was too. I was torn there. Biz had a good second half, got us off to a good start.”
Note: Charlotte has two participants in All-Star events. Guard Kemba Walker will start in the All-Star game, and has been selected to participate in the three-point contest. Rookie swingman Miles Bridges earned a spot in the slam dunk contest.
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