Ball scores 33 but Hornets suffer 6th consecutive loss

Another shooting drought doomed Charlotte at home

DeMar DeRozan (Jacob Kupferman / AP Photo)

CHARLOTTE — Despite LaMelo Ball having 33 points — his third-highest point total of the season — in Charlotte’s home matchup against Chicago Bulls, the Hornets’ overall shooting and defensive struggles reared their head again Wednesday night.

The Bulls’ 121-109 victory marked the sixth consecutive loss for the Hornets (28-28), who have statistically been the worst shooting team in the league during their losing streak. Charlotte’s 0-4 record during its latest homestand has dropped the team to ninth place in the Eastern Conference.

DeMar DeRozan had a team-high 36 points for the Bulls (34-21), while Zach LaVine added 27 points. Nikola Vucevic provided 18 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists.

Ball’s final stat line also included nine rebounds, and Miles Bridges added 22 points and five rebounds. Coming off the bench, Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 19 points while Terry Rozier had 16 points and six assists.

Charlotte had a one-point edge over Chicago after one quarter, but a stretch in which the Hornets missed 13 straight 3-pointers provided a window for the Bulls to build a 13-point halftime lead. 

“Second quarter, we just went dry again,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “Turnovers and missed shots led to easy stuff going the other way. We just have to eliminate those dry sequences where they pull away from us.

”DeRozan is obviously a great player and he made tough shots, LaVine made tough shots. We tried to trap them, zone them, blitz them, press them. We tried it all. We took the ball out of their best players’ hands and other guys made shots for them.”

The Hornets were 13 of 43 from behind the arc, taking more long-range shots than the Bulls (16 of 33) but with less success. Chicago was 56.1% from the field overall, a sizable margin over Charlotte’s rate of 42.6%.

Hoping to get back on track in one way or another, Charlotte is now set to begin a back-to-back with a road trip to Detroit (12-42) on Friday before coming home to face the Grizzlies (38-18) on Saturday.

Borrego said his team needs to “keep plugging away” in order to regain its rhythm.

”There’s some sort of extreme drought at some level, he said. “It feels like there’s a three- or four-minute span where we just lose our way a little bit offensively, whether that’s turnovers, missing good shots.

”Those spells, we just have to eliminate as we move forward. Obviously, making shots makes up for those dry spells. We have to have big nights to make up for those dry spells. We’ll be all right.”

With Gordon Hayward out indefinitely due to a sprained left ankle (announced by the team on Tuesday), Charlotte will either look to its available players to pick up the slack or possibly look to make a free agency move in order to bolster the lineup. The 12th-year small forward provided averages of 16.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists this season.