Takeaways from the Charlotte Hornets eighth straight road loss

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 1: Dwight Howard
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 1: Dwight Howard /

Does the Charlotte Hornets’ eighth consecutive loss away from home and fourth straight overall, call for major changes?

On December 1st, the Charlotte Hornets fell to the Miami Heat, 105-100. This marked their eighth straight road loss and dropped them 1-10 on the road overall. The team was without Kemba Walker for their second consecutive game, so here are some takeaways for the rest of the team.

1. The Road Woes Continue

As I previously stated, the Hornets have been horrid on the road this season. They haven’t won a road game since October, and their 1-10 record puts them at the second worst record away from home in the East. The only team below them? The Chicago Bulls who are 1-11 on the road.

The most frustrating thing about that stat may be the fact that in Charlotte the team is a completely different story. At the hive, they are 7-3, good for 5th best in the Eastern Conference.  It’s normal to expect a team to win more at home, but this much of a discrepancy is NOT normal.

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One thing that really stands out to me is that the Hornets have rarely ever been able to kill momentum their opposition is getting from the crowd. As soon as Goran Dragic hit the step back over Cody Zeller to go up 97-96 with 2:23 to go, it was over.  

The Heat’s crowd started getting into its “Seven Nation Army” song and chanting “Let’s Go HEAT”, and it’s as if the Hornets didn’t know what to do.  

Whenever they get on offense in these situations, the team seems to panic. Yes, they were without Kemba Walker, but that’s no excuse to toss up a flailing layup as the shot clock expires.

We know the Hornets struggle in crunch time anyway. While on the road, however, it’s clear not many of them know how to effectively combat opposing crowds.

2. Steve Clifford is on the Hot Seat

I personally have been one to give Clifford the benefit of the doubt in some of his struggles in Charlotte. I think now is the time to seriously consider if he’s the right coach for the job.

You can make the argument that the team just lacks talent, but that doesn’t just give Clifford a pass.

Let me explain a prime example of a situation that happens far too often with this team. After Josh Richardson made a layup putting the Heat up 99-96 with 1:46 to go, Clifford took a timeout.  Smart move. Gave him a great chance to calm the team down and get a good look out of the break. Except that didn’t happen. This is when the previously mentioned “flailing layup” occurred.

With just under five seconds remaining on the shot clock, Michael Carter-Williams attempted this layup and failed miserably. There was a severe lack of ball movement on this key possession. As a coach, you can’t have that out of a timeout, especially if MCW is the one taking the shot. MCW played well in place of Kemba, but he shouldn’t be the one taking the shot there.

Another thing to consider when it comes to Clifford is that maybe his philosophies just aren’t working. He’s always preached defense and taking care of the ball. The Hornets defense can’t get stops down the stretch, and they were especially sloppy with the ball today.

Both teams had 22 turnovers, but the Hornets have always been a that isn’t good enough to win offensively unless they take care of the ball. Some of this falls on the players certainly. Nic Batum made three errant passes early on, Dwight Howard had nine turnovers himself, but it’s always the same story. Eventually, you may have to consider it could be more than just the player’s struggles.

I’m not advocating for Clifford to be fired, but he should be coaching for his job from here on out.

3. Michael Carter-Williams is Playing Well

While the team will be hoping to have Kemba back by Monday, this was a positive sign from the game.

After a subpar performance against the Raptors in the starting role, MCW had a solid night last night. He was 4-7 from the floor and finished with 12 points, six assists, and four rebounds. For a backup point guard, you can’t ask for too much more than that.

Despite having just one steal, MCW was very active defensively and going after loose balls. His defense overall has been a big reason Clifford has prioritized playing him over Malik Monk in the past few weeks. Most of Charlotte’s guards, including Kemba, are below average defensively. It’s convenient to have a guy like MCW that can bring elite defense to the backcourt, though.

MCW might not be the reason you win a game, but it’s promising to know that if Kemba goes down again his backup won’t be the reason we lose them.

4. Is Frank Kaminsky in the Dog House?

I won’t spend too much time addressing this because it’s just a guess, but Frank Kaminsky played just 16 minutes tonight. That is well below his season average of 24.6 MPG.

He actually has played decently the past couple of games and wasn’t terrible in his little time on the court tonight.

Perhaps Clifford just felt Frank didn’t match up well with the Heat, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye out for Monday Night. Frank may have found his way into the doghouse, which we all know is a tough place to get out of once you’re there.

Next: Charlotte may have finally hit the draft jackpot

Those are just some of the main takeaways after last night, the Hornets will be in action again Monday Night against the Magic.