charlotte coach steve clifford rips hornets loss

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Some NBA coaches are diplomatic after a tough loss. Not Charlotte’s Steve Clifford.

After the Hornets lost to the Pistons 141-134 in overtime, an overtime where Charlotte gave up 14 points, Clifford ripped his team’s defensive effort.

“Until we care about something other than how many points we score, we’re not gonna win much,” Clifford told reporters in his postgame presser. “Five of the last seven games, we’ve been pretty good on offense. We are playing no defense. Not one guy.”

Charlotte has lost five in a row and six of their last seven, with the lone win a one-point victory over the Wizards. Even with LaMelo Ball finally returning, the Hornets couldn’t win – and Ball isn’t exactly known for his defense. Ball had 23 points and 11 assists in his first game in four weeks, but fouled out in the final minute of regulation.

Clifford had top-ten defenses in his first three years as Charlotte’s coach from 2013-18, and in his first two years as Orlando’s coach as well. But this Hornets team is 25th in defensive rating, and it’s getting worse. Clifford claimed “There’s not a bright spot” in Charlotte’s defending.

“We don’t run back on defense, we don’t guard the ball, our pick-and-roll stuff – we’re right back to where we started. Ground zero. Where all we want to be is ‘Let’s outscore the other team’,” Clifford said. “That never works.”

He did clarify that his players weren’t dogging it. The Hornets were trying to win; they were just “going about it all wrong,” Clifford said. “You can’t just outscore people in the NBA. You just can’t. And you can’t decide you’re not going to do the things that take effort. Like rebounding. Or getting loose balls. It just doesn’t work that way.”

The Hornets are 20th in defensive rebounding. Opponents are shooting 47.6 percent from the field (24th in the NBA). The only defensive category where Charlotte is in the top ten is steals, which are often the result of gambling, not solid defensive play.

Clifford was talking about the team’s score-first mentality, but keep in mind that Charlotte also has the least-efficient offense in the NBA, scoring just 107.8 points per 100 possessions. The Hornets better develop a defensive mentality soon, because their offense isn’t going to carry them, whether they have LaMelo or not.

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