The Charlotte Hornets battled hard and almost came back versus a Pelicans team that handled the Brooklyn Nets opening night. Ultimately, they didn’t have quite enough to complete the comeback. Charlotte cut it to 99-97, but New Orleans countered with eight straight points. Despite the effort there are some things to be concerned about from tonight’s performance. Here are some key observations.
Hornets still have issues in the paint:
Jonas Valanciunas had his way with the Charlotte Hornets’ front line. Jonas had 30 points and 17 rebounds. When Jonas wasn’t scoring or rebounding he was causing the Hornets to rack up a lot of fouls, and the Pelicans took advantage on the line. Valanciunas picked up the slack for Zion Williamson, who didn’t have his best performance. PJ Washington battled Zion – holding him to 7-19 shooting. New Orleans shot 32-37 from the foul line. The Pelicans also out-rebounded the Hornets 53-37. When you’re missing your best player you can’t have large discrepancies on the glass and at the foul line.
Gordon Hayward played well:
Say what you want about Gordon Hayward, but he played well against the Pelicans. Hayward shot 12-19 from the floor for 26 points, and he also contributed with seven assists. Charlotte will continue to need solid efforts from Hayward while LaMelo Ball recovers from his ankle injury.
Dennis Smith Jr. is steady off the bench:
Dennis Smith Jr. was the lone off-season addition to the Hornets roster and he has been a steady presence off the bench. Smith scored 10 points and dished out four assists in 22 minutes. Smith may be called upon to do more as Terry Rozier went down towards the end of the game with an ankle injury.
Charlotte will take on the Hawks in Atlanta on Sunday.