Hornets, Blazers both try to turn things around

A number of things went wrong for the Charlotte Hornets on their winless five-game road trip.

Charlotte’s performance on the frustrating trip may also be an indication of how things have evolved within the last month.

The Hornets will attempt to get back on track Wednesday night when they host the Portland Trail Blazers.

“We have to get ourselves right,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “We have to get back to what we’ve been for four years. Defense first, compete on every play (and) play smart. When we do that, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win. We have a good enough team to play a lot better, and again the big thing is finishing. We got to finish more plays out there.”

Charlotte won 14 of its first 23 games through Dec. 9. Since then the Hornets are 6-12 with the dubious numbers to back it up.

Through their first 23 games, the Hornets averaged 104.7 points, shot 44 percent and made 34.8 percent of their 3-pointers. They also averaged 11.7 turnovers and 27 trips to the foul line.

Defensively in those 23 games, Charlotte allowed 99.9 points, 43.1 percent shooting and 30.5 percent from long range.

Since getting to 14-9 with a 21-point win over the Orlando Magic, the numbers are different, especially defensively. Charlotte’s scoring and shooting percentages have inched higher but the defense has dropped off.

In their last 18 games, the Hornets are allowing 107.6 points per game, 46.8 percent shooting and 38.3 percent from 3-point range. The Hornets have allowed at least 100 points in eight consecutive games and in 14 games since Dec. 9.

Charlotte also has allowed teams to make at least 50 percent of their shots in five games during this slide, and it included Monday’s 108-98 loss at Boston when the Celtics made 15 3-pointers and shot 50 percent.

During the trip, the Hornets allowed 109.6 points per game, 45.1 percent shooting and 38.8 percent from long range. Offensively Charlotte averaged 100.8 points, shot 41.3 percent and 34.1 from 3-point range.

Kemba Walker scored 24 points Monday and it was his 28th game with 20 points or more. Walker shot 8 of 21 against the Celtics and shot 41.5 percent (42 of 101) on the trip.

“We just have to be ready to play,” said Walker. “Tough loss tonight. We just got to learn from our mistakes and prepare for the next one.”

The Hornets played two games without Nicolas Batum due to a hyperextended right knee. He returned Friday and scored 19 points in Philadelphia but was held to eight points in 37 minutes against Boston on Monday as he missed nine of 11 shots.

Wednesday starts a stretch of 10 out of 14 games at home before the Hornets embark on a seven-game trip Feb. 15 to March 4. The Hornets are 12-7 at home.

Portland also will be looking to rebound. The Trail Blazers are at the bottom of the league in points allowed (110.7) and defensive rating (112.4) and began a four-game trip with an ugly 120-101 loss in Washington Monday.

The Trail Blazers were 12-10 after a two-point win in Chicago on Dec. 5 but are 6-15 since. In those 21 games, Portland allowed 107.8 points per game, 45.4 percent shooting and a 39.8 percent clip from 3-point range.

On Monday, Portland easily allowed Washington to surpass those totals. The Trail Blazers allowed 48.8 percent shooting and 56.5 percent from 3.

“It was a very poor performance,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “We didn’t do a lot of things that good teams need to do to win games on the road. And it was very disappointing.”

Portland has allowed at least 50 percent shooting from long range eight times and 120 points 13 times. During last season’s 44-win season, the Blazers allowed 50 percent shooting from 3 11 times and 120 points seven times.

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 34 points but were 11 of 29 and Portland could not overcome another poor start. The Blazers fell behind 18-1 to Orlando Friday, and on Monday they allowed the game’s first 10 points en route to a 75-50 halftime deficit.

“Anytime you come out and have that kind of start to the game and the game gets away from you the way it did (today), I don’t think it ever sits well,” Lillard said.