CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On the surface, Tuesday's 28-point loss to the Pistons was nothing new for the Hornets.
After going toe-to-toe with their Eastern Conference foe for the opening half, the Hornets hit a wall in the final two quarters.
The Pistons loaded up on Al Jefferson in the post as many teams have done in the past, forcing others to step up and make plays, only to see them fail to capitalize on golden opportunities. They scored just 32 points, doing so on 12-for-40 shooting from the field, and missed all six of their 3-point attempts in a pivotal third quarter that turned the game on its head.
However, as much as shooting has been the Hornets' Achilles heel, Tuesday's loss was more than that.
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The Hornets have gaping holes on both ends of the court, a big reason why they haven't made the jump many expected this season. Their defense has picked up as of late, yet their inability to space the floor consistently for Jefferson and Walker — they currently rank last in the NBA as a team, converting just 30.8 percent of their 3-pointers — has been the thorn in their side all season long.
The issues sparked a recent trade, in which the Hornets received Mo Williams and Troy Daniels from Minnesota in return for Gary Neal and a second-round pick. While it's a relatively mid-level trade, it's one the Hornets are hoping to yield great results from.
Williams, a 12-year veteran, brings the perimeter shooting the Hornets so desperately need and will provide a steady hand at the point guard position until Walker returns, a role he absorbed in Minnesota this season with Ricky Rubio missing an extended period of time.
He should also make a seamless transition into the lineup after having spent one season as Jefferson's teammate in 2012-2013 with the Jazz. Williams is well acclimated to Jefferson's tendencies and expects to be the floor spacer to prevent teams from doubling down.
"If you don’t double team [Jefferson], he’s going to score the basketball," Williams said in a Wednesday news conference. "And he’s a good passer out of the post, and I complement his game as far as my man not leaving, just being able to knock down that open three consistently when they do double. And if it’s the first kick out, make sure it gets kicked to the weak-side corner, where your shot is going to come from out of a double team nine times out of 10."
Daniels gives the Hornets another back court option as a 3-point specialist. After going undrafted out of VCU, he joined the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and shattered the record for 3-pointers made in a season. His shining moment was in the playoffs last season, when he prevented the Rockets from falling behind 0-3 by hitting the game-winning shot against the Trail Blazers.
"Troy is a skilled player. We had him in Summer League two years ago," said Steve Clifford. "I like him, he's high character and I think he has a future. How we're going to use him, I'm going to figure out in the next 10 days."
The injury bug has hit the Hornets hard with Kemba Walker, Al Jefferson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist sustaining nagging injuries, which is why