The second of the Charlotte Hornets’ two West Coast trips now has no chance of ending up like the first.
The Hornets surprised in that prior trip, going 3-1 and beating the defending-champion Golden State Warriors. Following Thursday’s 109-103 overtime loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, the best the Hornets can manage this time around is 2-2, with one game left in altitude, Friday against the Utah Jazz.
Blazers forward Mo Harkless had a dunk tap, putting back a missed layup by teammate Damian Lillard, to extend the Blazers’ lead to six with 37.5 seconds left in overtime.
Hornets point guard Kemba Walker (40 points and four steals) responded with a 3, but Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic (24 points, 14 rebounds, but seven turnovers) put the game away at the foul line in the last 10 seconds.
The Hornets showed some fight in making up a double-digit deficit in the second half to send the game to overtime. The Hornets had the last possession of regulation, but center Dwight Howard’s shot from the top of the key was blocked.
The Hornets dropped to 23-31, and can do no better than break even on this trip, the only victory so far coming in a Sunday comeback against the Suns in Phoenix. Some sloppy defense cost them in Denver Monday night.
Three who mattered
Walker: The Hornets point guard sure played like an All-Star in the first half, generating 17 points off 12 shots from the field.
Nurkic: He made nine of his first 13 shots.
Damian Lillard: He overcame a poor start to finish with 18 points and eight assists for the Blazers.
Kemba Walker speaks Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, on the value of interacting with basketball’s best at the 2018 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles.
▪ This three-game set might be as challenging as any on the Hornets’ schedule this season: Three games in four days, a cross-country flight, a game in high altitude (Utah) and a day game at the end of it all (Sunday versus the Toronto Raptors).
▪ Walker said he was napping Thursday when he received a slew of congratulatory text messages that he’d been selected as a replacement All-Star. Walker fills in for the New York Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis, who tore an ACL in his left knee.
▪ Hornets power forward Marvin Williams returned Thursday following a four-game absence due to a left ankle sprain. Williams immediately returned to the starting lineup.
▪ The problem guarding the Blazers is the same one teams have against the Golden State Warriors and Washington Wizards: Both guards (Lillard and CJ McCollum) can generate offense for themselves and others off the dribble.
▪ Usually when the Hornets struggle defensively early, the trouble starts along the 3-point line. Not Thursday: The Blazers made just two of their nine first-quarter shots from 3, yet led 29-18 entering the second quarter.
▪ Hornets guard Nic Batum, who started in the NBA as a Blazers draft pick, got a big round of applause when he was introduced to the crowd.
▪ New Hornet Willy Hernangomez won’t join the team until it returns to Charlotte following Friday’s game in Salt Lake City.
▪ This was the Blazers’ ninth consecutive home victory.
B OFFENSE: Strong 3-point shooting by Walker and forwards Williams and Frank Kaminsky.
C- DEFENSE: Between dribble-drive and Nurkic in the post, the Hornets gave up constant scoring in the lane.
C COACHING: Gotta close the winnable road games because there are so few left at home.
Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford, on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, says the passing of the NBA trade deadline brings a sense of relief, stability.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell
Trail Blazers 109, Hornets 103, OT
CHARLOTTE (103)—Kidd-Gilchrist 3-9 0-0 6, Williams 4-6 0-0 10, Howard 3-11 1-1 7, Walker 13-26 8-8 40, Batum 5-15 0-0 11, Hernangomez 0-0 0-0 0, Kaminsky 6-14 1-1 17, Zeller 1-3 2-4 4, Carter-Williams 0-2 0-0 0, Graham 0-1 1-2 1, Lamb 3-11 1-1 7. Totals 38-98 14-17 103.
PORTLAND (109)—Harkless 4-7 0-0 8, Aminu 2-7 1-2 6, Nurkic 10-14 4-5 24, Lillard 6-22 3-3 18, McCollum 7-18 6-7 22, Turner 5-7 2-2 13, Davis 3-3 1-1 7, Leonard 1-2 0-0 3, Collins 2-6 1-2 6, Napier 0-3 0-0 0, Connaughton 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 41-90 18-22 109.
3-Point Goals—Charlotte 13-33 (Walker 6-11, Kaminsky 4-8, Williams 2-3, Batum 1-8, Graham 0-1, Lamb 0-2), Portland 9-31 (Lillard 3-11, McCollum 2-5, Leonard 1-1, Turner 1-2, Aminu 1-2, Collins 1-4, Harkless 0-3, Napier 0-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Charlotte 44 (Howard 15), Portland 57 (Aminu 15). Assists—Charlotte 17 (Batum 5), Portland 18 (Lillard 8). Total Fouls—Charlotte 16, Portland 19. A—19,178 (19,393).