Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist only lost twice as freshmen at Kentucky last season while winning a national championship. With both now playing for rebuilding franchises in the NBA, they're finding things a little more difficult.
The Hornets beat the Bobcats 107-99 on Nov. 9, but Charlotte (7-22) quickly rebounded by winning six of its next eight to improve to 7-5 and match its entire win total from 2011-12.
But they haven't improved on that figure since. The Bobcats have lost 17 straight, creeping closer to the 23-game losing streak that wrapped up last season. The longest slump in NBA history is Cleveland's 26 consecutive losses during the 2010-11 season.
Charlotte gave itself little chance to end the streak Friday, missing 13 of its first 16 shots to fall into an 18-point deficit against Brooklyn. The final losing tally was 97-81 against a Nets team that had fired its coach only a day earlier. Kidd-Gilchrist struggled with three points on 1-of-6 shooting and Hakim Warrick's 13 points were enough for a team high.
The Bobcats actually outscored Brooklyn 66-64 over the final three quarters.
"It's tough. We can't put ourselves in that kind of position," said Kemba Walker, who paces the Bobcats with 18.2 points per game.
Charlotte has made slow starts a habit and has been outscored by an average of 6.8 points in the first quarter during its losing streak.
"We don't have a lot of depth on our team to come back against great teams, but we do every once in a while, but we can't do that all the time," said Walker, who was held to five points on 2-of-10 shooting. "We dig ourselves in holes we can't get out of."
Davis, averaging 15.1 points and 8.4 rebounds, is having more individual success than Kidd-Gilchrist (10.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg), but the Hornets (6-23) have lost 12 of 13, with the lone win coming over Orlando on Wednesday.
Davis was three shy of a season high with 25 points on Friday as New Orleans pushed the Raptors to overtime before falling 104-97.
"Once he gets stronger, it's going to be game time," Hornets coach Monty Williams said of Davis, who is third among rookies with 2.8 blocks per 48 minutes.
"He's starting to figure out how to use his quickness to get to the basket, and he's starting to make jump shots."
Reserve forward Jason Smith returned for the Hornets on Friday after missing the last seven games with a torn labrum. He scored two points in 12 minutes but should give the Hornets' front line more depth as they try for their fourth straight win in Charlotte.
Ben Gordon had a season-high 34 points off the bench for the Bobcats in the season's first meeting. Gordon, whose career 22.1-scoring average against the Hornets is his highest against any team, scored 10 against Brooklyn after missing the previous three games with right knee soreness.