The Charlotte Hornets faced a reality check in their 113-110 loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers Monday night.
Charlotte Hornets: CLT needs to get over first half struggles
Despite being 5-2 on the season heading into its matchup with the Cavs, the Hornets have yet to play a complete 48 minutes of basketball and Monday was no different.
The Hornets can credit its early-season success to its performance in the second half of games. Charlotte has outscored its opponents 499-410 in the second half this season.
In fact, during the second half of games, the team has only been outscored once this season. That came at the hands of the Boston Celtics in a 140-129 overtime loss.
Charlotte was so dominant in the second half that prior to the Cleveland game, the Hornets ranked as both the league’s best third-quarter team (+27.8 points per 100 possessions) and its best fourth-quarter team (+23.3).
The team won all of its games in the second half, going on large runs to either catch up or seal the game. The most dominant second-half performance came against Indiana where a 24-0 run helped spark a 23-point comeback win in the season opener
Unfortunately for the Hornets, the game is not played in just the second half. The same way the team won games in the second half, it has lost games in the first.
Prior to the Cavaliers game, in the second half, Charlotte outscored their opponents by 26.5 points per 100 possessions (by far the league’s best margin), but in the first half, the Hornets had been outscored by 14.2 points per 100 possessions (the league’s third-worst mark).
The team’s performance Monday against Cleveland is not going to help that stat. The Cavaliers obliterated the Hornets in the first half. In the first quarter, Cleveland scored 40.
“We’ve got to have a better sense of urgency,” Miles Bridges said after the loss. “We come out too lackadaisical, like teams are going to give us the lead. … Then they hit us in the face first.”
Charlotte can not be a team that expects to make and contend in the playoffs if it can not play a complete game from start to finish. Going down double-digits in the first half and hoping for a second-half comeback is not a way to win basketball games.
In the NBA, you have no time to come out sloppy as the Hornets did against Cleveland. Maintaining their second-half play will be important, but the team will need to fix its first-half issues before its schedule gets tougher.
While the second-half play has been impressive, the Hornets’ promising season could be in jeopardy if the team does not learn to play a complete ball game.