Court Vision: Hornets 2-7 in last nine after loss to Nets

Al Jefferson led Charlotte, along with Gerald Henderson, with 23 points against Brooklyn.

Hornets drop a tough home loss as Brooklyn gets the 91-88 win in Charlotte.

1. HORNETS REELING

With 12 games remaining on the schedule and five teams fighting for two playoffs spots in the Eastern Conference, the Charlotte Hornets are in desperation mode after having dropped the seventh of their last nine games following a loss at home to Brooklyn on Wednesday night. 

By losing, Charlotte (30-40) falls from ninth to 11th in the Eastern Conference.

Each loss seems to be the result of something different. This time is was about a four-minute stretch in the third quarter that saw the Hornets go from leading by seven to trailing by four. 

"That third quarter was our downfall," Hornets center Al Jefferson said. "We’re fighting for our lives right now. We can’t lose focus like that."

Jefferson and Hornets coach Steve Clifford said this team has to play an entire 48 minutes of solid basketball because it isn’t good enough to skirt by.

"When we’re right, we play well," Jefferson said. "But for some reason, we haven’t been consistent … and that’s something that we were real good at last season, especially."

The schedule of Charlotte hasn’t done it any favors, either.

The Hornets have played 14 games thus far in March, and have three more to go before April arrives. 

Clifford said even though his team is tired, it’s still not an excuse.

"If we’re going to play our way in (the playoffs), we’re going to have to earn it," he said.

2. ZELLER STILL ON THE MEND

Charlotte starting power forward Cody Zeller missed his third straight game after trying to come back briefly from a right shoulder sprain sustained against Washington on March 9.

Zeller initially missed four games following the injury, but came back in a loss at Sacramento on March 20, when he played just 19 minutes, going 0-for-3 from the field and grabbing six rebounds.

It could be a few more games before Zeller returns to the court.

"He feels better, but it just hasn’t responded the way that we hoped," Clifford said. "He is not 100 percent. We didn’t want to get to a thing where he plays one game and then he has to sit two out. 

"We’re going to wait until he is closer to 100 percent."

Zeller, who is in his second season, is averaging 7.6 points and 5.9 rebounds in 24 minutes per game.

3. PRICE LEAVING FOR UNCC

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte on Thursday will introduce Hornets assistant coach Mark Price as the new head coach of its men’s basketball team.

For Price, who is primarily the shooting coach for the Hornets, being a head coach will be something new. He has been an assistant coach in the NBA since 2007.

He has one year of coaching experience at the collegiate level, having served one year as an assistant at his alma mater Georgia Tech for the 1999-2000 season.

Clifford thinks the 49ers have made the right choice.

"Mark has gotten a lot of credit for the work he has done with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s shooting, but he is much more than that," Clifford said. "He has helped Kemba Walker a lot. He has helped Mike a lot with all aspects of the game, both offensively and defensively. 

"Mark was a great player. He grew up in a basketball family. His dad was a coach and I think that is who he is. He is a coach and he does a great job. He is talented and he has been around basketball his whole life. I think he’ll do a great job."

54 — Number of points the Nets scored in the paint on 27-of-55 shooting.

65 — Percentage the Hornets shot from the free throw line. Brooklyn shot 90.9 percent.

Follow Brett Jensen on Twitter @Brett_Jensen