So much for the doing it the easy way. Then again, when it comes to the Charlotte Hornets things are never really all that simple.
Given an opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the two teams they are jockeying with for playoff seeding, the Hornets squandered it. By succumbing to the L.A. Clippers 113-90 in their regular-season home finale at Spectrum Center on Thursday, the Hornets essentially must -- at minimum -- win at least one of their final two remaining games to solidify a grip on the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
With both on the road, it's a daunting task. Potentially having Miles Bridges available after missing the last six games due to the league's health and safety protocols may provide them with an energetic lift.
“Yeah, big focus on the New York game," coach James Borrego said. "It’s going to come quick, though. We’re on a flight (Friday). We don’t have much time to dwell on this one. We got to move forward. One o’clock game on Saturday, 1 o’clock game on Sunday. Hopefully, we’ll get good news on Miles here soon and that’ll help us. But if not, we got to continue to move forward. We got a big game on Saturday."
Followed by Sunday's clash in Washington. The Hornets' final seeding will likely be determined by what happens against the Wizards, concluding a week in which they've taken some lumps closing out games. The hope is the knowledge from the lessons they were schooled in by the likes of the Clippers and Denver now translates into success when they get going in the play-in tournament.
“We’ve got to put a 48-minute game together," Bismack Biyombo said. "That’s what we learn from these games, against these types of teams that have experience, players that have competed at the highest level and played for a championship. So, for us, and for our young guys, I think it’s a good experience to learn from it. Going into Saturday and Sunday’s games, I think we’ll be in good shape. I think we have enough guys that understand. We’re going to go watch film and continue to get better. I think it’s good for us that we got to face these teams. You get tested. I think we got tested the past few games. We know where we’re at. Now you’ve got to go do it. It’s fun.”
Quotable: "It’s good that he’s going to get some rhythm here before the play-in game. I think he’s knocked off that rust and he’s getting more and more comfortable. I thought his shot looked better tonight. I think he’s getting his legs underneath him a little bit more and hopefully that wrist is becoming more and more comfortable for him right now. So it’s really important. It’s going to give us a 10-game sample for the play-in game since he’s come back. So that’s going to be important. I think he’s really added to the spirit of the group. It’s great to have him back." -- James Borrego on the importance of this stretch for LaMelo Ball
Noteworthy: After topping double figures in three of the first four games following him missing 15 with a sprained ankle, Malik Monk has scored in single digits in four straight games. During that span, he's connected on just 6 of 26 attempts. He was on the floor for only seven minutes in the first half against the Clippers and didn't see the court again until late in the fourth quarter when the outcome was decided.
Up next: at New York, 1 p.m. Saturday