For most of the past two weeks, the Charlotte Hornets have had all the luxuries and spoils of home: sleeping in their own beds, driving to the Spectrum Center in their own cars, and playing in front of home crowds. And yet, even though six of the team’s past seven games have been in Charlotte, its record over that stretch is 2-5.
So as the Hornets embark on a four-game road trip to the West Coast, starting Friday with Golden State (though the Warriors will be without All-Star guard Steph Curry), they’ll need to recoup some of those home games they let slip away if there’s any hope of a playoff berth.
The problem is that for as poor as the Hornets have been at home this season (they fell to 10-10 in their building after Wednesday’s loss to the Celtics) ... well, they’ve been even worse away from Charlotte.
Their 2-12 road record can attest to that.
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“It hasn’t been the most friendly out there on the road for us, either,” forward Marvin Williams said after the loss to the Celtics. “Just have to go out there with a road mentality. ...We’ve got a lot of ground to make up.
“It doesn’t get any easier for us, so we’re going to have to start taking it one game at a time.”
Perhaps, when assessing the Hornets’ performances on the road, it’s easier to start with their two wins. The first was against the Memphis Grizzlies, who at the time were 5-1 and one of the NBA’s best teams. Only now, they’re last in the Western Conference and have won but five games since.
The second of the Hornets’ two road wins came against the Oklahoma City Thunder. While clearly talented with Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder is developing a reputation this season as one of the NBA’s more fickle teams. One night they beat the Warriors, the next they lose to one of the league’s worst teams… like the Hornets.
Which brings us back to the Hornets’ 12 road losses. The thing is, they aren’t all blowouts. Maybe that’s more frustrating than if they were. Rather, it’s one or two miscues late in the game, one too many missed shots, that has consistently set this team back and now left its season dangling precariously.
“I bet I can run off probably four or five games to you guys where we had a chance to win, especially on the road, and just didn’t make enough plays down the stretch to kind of come away with the win,” Williams said. “We’ve had our fair share of opportunities to win games.”
The clearest examples that come to mind are the ones that would have really given this Hornets team a boost – a one-point loss to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers; three points to the aforementioned Celtics in Boston; by three to the lowly Chicago Bulls; by five to Milwaukee last week. There’s your four or five games Williams mentioned. Flip those from the loss column and make them wins, and suddenly a 16-18 Hornets squad is in the hunt for the eighth seed.
Instead, the Hornets wasted those opportunities, and then did the same on this extended homestand. Acting Hornets coach Stephen Silas said after Wednesday’s loss he thought the team would win more during this recent stretch.
And now the Hornets don’t have the luxury of those home games anymore. Whatever road woes they’ve had this season, they must resolve them, and fast. If not, if they go winless on this road trip (consider they’ve already lost to three of these four teams at home), then this season might be wasted by the time the All-Star Game rolls around in February.
“In the standings, we’re down now,” Silas said. “It’s time for us to play our best, and we’re going to have to do it on the road.”