On the eve of the NBA’s trade deadline, it was business as usual at Spectrum Center, which meant another loss for the Hornets. They dropped their ninth straight game, this time at home to the team directly above them in the Eastern Conference standings, the 12th-seeded Toronto Raptors, 123-117.
The Hornets played pretty well, and led for most of the game, at one point by as much as 15, but ultimately crumbled in the fourth quarter as the wheels slowly fell off. It was a disappointing ending to a winnable game, something that has been a rarity recently.
It’s hard to deny that there is a weird vibe around the team, as almost half the players on the team have been hearing their names in nonstop trade rumors for the past few weeks. Add that to all of the players missing due to injury and it makes for a very tough environment for a team to win games, which is exactly what we’ve seen.
One way or another, there must be almost a sense of relief knowing that the trade deadline is finally almost here, and there will be clarity and finality for the players on the team. They will be able to just focus on basketball, and not wonder what city they’ll be living in the next day.
One of the players at the forefront of trade rumors has been Miles Bridges. Despite all the rumors, he has been able to block out the news and play the best basketball of his career, even during all these losses.
After setting a new career high with 41 points on Monday night’s loss to the Lakers, Bridges followed that up by upping that high on Wednesday, as he scored 45 points on 17/27 shooting and 6/11 from three, adding 8 rebounds, and 7 assists. It was another impressive inside-and-out offensive game, and if he’s traded at the deadline and this ends up being his last game in a Hornets uniform, he’ll certainly have gone out with a bang.
Bridges became just the fourth player in franchise history to score 40+ points in back-to-back games, joining Glen Rice, Kemba Walker, and Terry Rozier. It’s also only the second stretch of Bridges’ career where he’s even had back-to-back games scoring 30+ points.
After the game, Bridges opened up to the media a bit, answering questions from Jeremy Grandison of ESPN Charlotte and Will Eudy, a FanSided Staff Writer, lamenting on what has amounted to a lost season, and reiterating his desire to stay in Charlotte this season and beyond.
While I appreciate his optimism, I can’t see any world where the Hornets would be a top 6 team in the East, even with perfect health all season. Still, it’s nice to hear that he has confidence in this group and believes in what they are building in Charlotte.
Given his contract situation, his age, and the market, there are a lot of good arguments in favor of just holding onto Bridges and re-signing him this offseason, either as a piece of the rebuild or to trade at a later date on a longer contract. But at the same time, there have to be teams around the league who would love to add a guy who just scored 40+ points in back-to-back games. As good as he’s looked lately if a big offer comes through, the Hornets have to jump on it.
Rookie stud, Brandon Miller also kept it rolling and has clearly arrived, proven by the fact that he scored a quiet 20 points, and had a bit of an off night. But he has now scored 20+ points in six straight games which ties Alonzo Mourning for the second-longest such streak by a rookie in franchise history.