The Nuggets defeated the Hornets 117-112 in a must-win game for Charlotte.It was not a close contest to start the game, falling by double-digits early in the first quarter.
It didn't help that LaMelo Ball was struggling with his shot all game. The Hornets rookie finished with just five points on a horrendous one for nine shooting clip from the field. He did however contribute in other areas, posting 11 rebounds and seven assists to offset his cold offensive night. The Hornets eventually found a way to claw back into it the game, surprisingly after head Coach James Borrego was ejected.
Something you hardly ever see….
— Bally Sports: Hornets (@HornetsOnBally) May 12, 2021
When asked about his ejection, Borrego shrugged it off but did praise his team's performance even in the loss.
“I am proud of them. They responded and they competed and that's all I can ask,” the Hornets coach said.
Unfortunately, this was their 36th loss, and are in danger of being jumped in the standings by the Indiana Pacers and the Washington Wizards, who they play during their final game of the season. On the bright side, The Chicago Bulls were defeated by the Brooklyn Nets, which clinches a spot in the play-in tournament at the end of the season.
There are in fact plenty of positives to pull from such a tight affair as well. The most important being if Charlotte needs to incorporate a three-guard lineup more often.
“Its something we need to look at for sure,” Borrego said. “Were going to need some shot making out there. Maybe Terry, Devonte', and LaMelo to start out,” he continued.
Devonte' Graham was also red hot after returning from injury, dropping 31 points off the bench and 19 of them came in the fourth quarter.
“He looked fresh – he looked like Devonte’,” Borrego told ClutchPoints. “So, we’re going to need that moving forward. I thought he gave us an extreme lift. We probably wouldn’t have been in position without him. I thought ‘Tae looked great on both ends of the floor, looked composed, playmaking, shot making, so this is the ‘Tae we know.”
It is great news for the Hornets that they were able to clinch a play-in, but Graham and the rest of the team definitely isn't happy that it came in a loss. The third year guard mentioned they did not want to put their destiny in other team's hands and they want to control their own fate. Graham is correct, but they needed all the help they can get in a race against the other bottom seeds of the conference. It is also a little tougher to control your fate when you are still missing key rotation guys, like Gordon Hayward and Miles Bridges.
The Hornets have nothing to hang their heads over and they are going to need to carry this intensity into their next game against the Clippers. Despite clinching the play-in game berth, there is a lot of work to be done for Charlotte. Winning the remainder of their games will build some much needed momentum for this team to see success moving forward.