The Hornets continued their march to the regular season with a matchup vs South Carolina’s own Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis played with more intensity from the jump and blew the Hornets out 128-98. Some things from this game stood out, so let’s break it down…
Rebounding: I said it in my Hornets’ season preview that Charlotte needs to improve their rebounding and tonight was a prime example. Memphis out-rebounded the Hornets 68-36, including 19 offensive rebounds. Preseason or not, that is a wide margin. Stephen Adams was able to have his way in the paint. Yes, Mason Plumlee was out due to health and safety protocols, but he alone can’t fix this problem or the Hornets’ interior defense and speaking of that….
Interior Defense: Memphis scored 62 points in the paint and often throughout the game was were able to drive to the basket and finish at the rim with little to no resistance. The Hornets must contain dribble penetration from opposing teams and find an interior presence or teams will attack this defense at will.
James Bouknight: Despite the Hornets’ offense struggling, James Bouknight was a bright spot for the second consecutive preseason game. Bouknight scored 17 points in 26 minutes – shooting 7/16 from the floor. Yes, it was mainly against backups, but Bouknight has shown why the Hornets drafted him at 11 and as he continues to build confidence his impressive play should carry into the regular season. Bouknight will play a significant role from the beginning of the season, as the Hornets will need some scoring punch off the bench after losing both Devonte Graham and Malik Monk this off season.
The Hornets are halfway through the preseason and will try to work out some of these issues before their next game Monday against the Miami Heat. They will conclude the preseason with their final preseason game Wednesday against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.