Court Vision: Charlotte’s win streak ends against San Antonio
San Antonio puts a stop to the Hornets’ five-game winning streak with the 98-93 victory.
1. DEFENSIVE LAPSE COSTS HORNETS
When you’re a team like Charlotte and the reigning NBA champions are the opponent, playing well all 48 minutes is a necessity. Unfortunately for the Hornets on Wednesday night, that didn’t happen.
Charlotte (15-25) played well in three of the four quarters, but the poor defensive play in the second quarter is what ultimately doomed the Hornets against San Antonio (24-16).
In that second quarter, the Spurs shot a whopping 59.1 percent from the field, and made 5-of-6 from 3-point range. When it was done, they had scored 35 points and had built a 57-45 halftime lead.
Charlotte head coach Steve Clifford was none too pleased with his team’s effort during that stretch.
"The story of the game was our second quarter defense," he said. "We made a ton of mistakes on defense and they made us pay. …
"Against a team like that, you can’t have a stretch where you play five minutes of no defense. To me, that was the game."
2. BIYOMBO HAS MONSTER GAME
With All-Pro center Al Jefferson still on the sideline with a groin strain, reserve center Bismack Biyombo is getting plenty of extended minutes to show how much he’s improved from his first three seasons to this one.
Against San Antonio, Biyombo statistically had maybe the best game of his career as he pulled down 15 rebounds, seven of which were offensive, and scored 12 points. However, he wasn’t satisfied.
"Is that my best game? No, no it’s not," Biyombo said. "The most important thing is to get a win. If we don’t win, it doesn’t mean anything."
Over his last two games, Biyombo has been a man possessed on the boards having grabbed 27 rebounds, with 14 of them being on the offensive end. He’s also scored a combined 26 points. He entered the game averaging just 3.9 points per game.
"He’s played great," Clifford said. "He played really well. His team defense has gotten better and better."
With Jefferson out at least another 10 days, Biyombo, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, will have even more opportunities to show how much he’s improved.
3. STEPHENSON RETURNS
Hornets shooting guard Lance Stephenson returned to action Wednesday night after having been out since Dec. 17 because of a pelvic strain.
During his absence, Charlotte went 9-5, which included a five-game winning streak entering the game against the Spurs.
Stephenson came off the bench and played 18 minutes and scored eight points on 3-of-8 shooting, to go along with one rebound and two assists.
Stephenson has a long ways to before he is 100 percent, Clifford said.
"It’s going to be a few games for him to get back up to where he needs to be," Clifford said. "I think it will be like (tonight) for two or three games and we’ll see how he feels."
Stephenson said it was good just to get on the court even with the limited minutes.
"I felt good out there," Stephenson said. "I didn’t feel winded. It felt good to be out there and help my teammates."
Stephenson, who was expected to do big things this season when he signed as a free agent, has done little this to meet those expectations. However, he has shoot poorly, making just 38.6 percent of his shots, including a horrid 15.1 percent from 3-point range.
Even so, he’s second on the team in rebounds and assists.
14 — The number of shots Spurs guard Manu Ginobili took to score 27 points.
27 — San Antonio had a very high 27 assists on 37 baskets made.
"We don’t have any room for error. We can’t have guys go into the game and not give their best." — Clifford said of his team’s defense in the second quarter.
Follow Brett Jensen on Twitter @Brett_Jensen