Charlotte Hornets wrapup: Thursday’s road game at Chicago Bulls

By Richard Walker

Notes and observations from Thursday’s 108-91 Hornets’ road loss to the Chicago Bulls that dropped Charlotte to 28-30 overall:

… A recent trend in Hornets’ losses has been slow starts; Charlotte has lost its last eight games when it trails after the first quarter – as it did in Thursday’s loss. Charlotte is 8-15 this season in games in which it trails after the first quarter. “It’s tough to score right now,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “That’s the bottom line. The inability to make shots is putting a tremendous amount of pressure on the defense.”

… Due to the slow starts, Borrego says anything is possible with his starting lineup moving forward. “We’ll look to see if we need to make a change in the starting lineup,” said Borrego, who started guards Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier, forwards Jalen McDaniels and Miles Bridges and center Vernon Carey, Jr., for the second straight game. “Maybe there’s something we could do. I’m not married to the starting lineup. We’ll keep plugging around and looking at different things.”

… The Hornets played without LaMelo Ball (broken right wrist), Malik Monk (right ankle), Gordon Hayward (right foot) and Nate Darling (right ankle) again on Thursday and have six of their last seven games.

… Without that group, the offense continues to struggle. An offense that had scored 100 or more points in 38 of the first 40 games, has now scored less than 100 points eight times in the last 18 games starting with a March 20 loss at the Los Angeles Clippers when Ball was injured. Graham led Charlotte on Thursday with 16 points. Nikola Vucevic led Chicago (25-34) with 18 points, 16 rebounds and six assists.

… As poorly as Charlotte has been playing, it remains in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and is three games ahead of 11th place Chicago; The NBA is allowing 20 teams to make postseason, though eight of them – the seventh- through 10th-place teams in each conference – will have to jockey for the final playoff of the spots in the traditional 16-team tournament in play-in games.

… An indication of the offensive slump of late has been 3-point shooting; Charlotte is 11 of 51 on 3-pointers in the last six quarters. “I think we’re getting good looks,” Caleb Martin said. Martin added that his team should’ve be so adversely affected by slow starts. “We just have to start out fast and not get discouraged when we the other team hits some shots.”

… The good news for the Hornets? Each of the team’s last 14 games are in the Eastern time zone and 10 of the next 12 are at home.

What’s next: The Hornets host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday at 8 p.m.