Lillard, Trail Blazers handle faltering Hornets in 105-95 win

Charlotte has now lost its past six games

(AP Photo/Rusty Jones)

CHARLOTTE — The problems that have plagued the Charlotte Hornets over the past few weeks didn’t go away in Wednesday night’s 105-95 home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Damian Lillard finished with 26 points on six 3-pointers for Portland (8-3) as Charlotte (3-9) failed to match its opponent’s offensive intensity once again. With the 10-point loss, the Hornets have now dropped six games in a row and have been held under 100 points in four of their past five.


Charlotte led Portland by five points in the first quarter but was outscored in the following three quarters. 

“I thought in the first half against the zone, we actually got really good shots,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. ” The second half was not as good. You can’t score 16 points in the fourth quarter and win. We come and go. Right now, we’re middle of the pack in the league in transition defense and that hurt us tonight again.”

Still without LaMelo Ball (ankle), Gordon Hayward (shoulder) and Cody Martin (quadriceps), Clifford acknowledged that his roster is needing to improve its intangibles — with or without his lineup’s full arsenal. 

“We started the game without the necessary physicality, and those are things that we’re going to have to do even when we get Melo, Gordon and Cody back,” Clifford added.

Anfernee Simons had 19 points and six assists while Shaedon Sharpe helped out with 17 points off the bench, boosting the Blazers as they fell behind by a dozen in the third quarter.

During that explosive third period, Charlotte went on a 19-2 run before Portland responded with a 16-2 run of its own. 

Terry Rozier led the Hornets with 18 points and five assists and Mason Plumlee had a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Kelly Oubre Jr. chipped in 16 points, although he finished with just one made 3-pointer on his 11 attempts.

As a team, Charlotte shot just 37% from the field, 25% from behind the arc and 71% from the free-throw line. The Blazers were much more efficient, making six more shots on 16 fewer attempts.

Looking to snap their losing skid, the Hornets will now travel to Miami to face the Heat (4-7) on Thursday.

Clifford has already ruled out Ball’s return for that matchup, stating that the 2021 NBA All-Star is still day-to-day. Both Hayward and Martin are also day-to-day.