Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford tried to explain why guard Lance Stephenson has struggled so far in his first season in Charlotte, saying Stephenson is trying to live up to certain expectations, ESPN's Michael Wallace reports.
Stephenson has had a seat on the bench during the late stages of the game for the past few weeks and did not play at all in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's 105-97 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. The loss to Portland was Charlotte's seventh straight.
"To be fair, one of the things that's made it more difficult for him is that he came here and people proclaimed him as the next superstar," Clifford said, according to ESPN.com. "He's not a star. He's a guy that has talent to become a star. To be a star in this league, you have to do it over years."
Stephenson had eight points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals in 23 minutes against the Trail Blazers. He signed a three-year, $27 million deal with the Hornets in the offseason after leaving the Indiana Pacers, where he spent his first four seasons.
Stephenson said he will try to improve his performance to earn playing time in the fourth quarter of games.
"I'm not hurt. I'm healthy," Stephenson said. "There are no more excuses. Hey, it's Coach's decision if he doesn't want to play me in the fourth [quarter]. I'm just going to continue to work hard and do what it takes to win games."
Stephenson is averaging 9.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 16 games this season for the Hornets (4-12).
The Hornets host the Golden State Warriors on Friday at 7:00 p.m.
- Scooby Axson