Hornets look for better start against Grizzlies

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The reserves for the Charlotte Hornets have done some good things, pulling the team back from deficits.

That’s a nice element to have available, but it’s also tough to be in such situations.

The Hornets will look for more of a complete game on Wednesday night when they host the Memphis Grizzlies at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C.

“This has kind of been our pattern all season,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “Teams jump on us. We get down double digits and we find a way to claw back in. There’s a responsibility on our starters to perform better.”

The Hornets have a three-game losing streak after Sunday’s 114-106 loss at Philadelphia.

The Grizzlies are coming off a better result, riding Jaren Jackson Jr.’s 24-point performance in Monday night’s 113-109 victory in San Antonio.

So the Hornets figure they can’t afford to be falling into another deficit, with Borrego hinting that some changes could be in the works.

“I’m searching and I’m evaluating,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of clean-up here.”

Memphis won for the first time in four road games this season in the visit to San Antonio. The latest outcome was a sign of how the Grizzlies can excel when the pieces come together.

“How we’ve got to compete the right way, play together the right way and this is what we’re capable of,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said.

This is the first multi-stop road trip of the season for the Grizzlies.

Memphis has led the NBA in points in the paint, a sign of the team’s determination to push the ball inside. So that form of grittiness would tend to be a good trend, but the trait hasn’t translated to the defensive end.

The shortcomings on defense are something that need to evolve.

“Our defensive identity has to continue to grow,” Jenkins said.

Memphis guard Ja Morant has been the leading scorer among NBA rookies. But it hasn’t all been easy as he was limited to eight points Friday at Orlando, then didn’t play the next night against Dallas to get extra rest before notching nine points Monday at San Antonio.

Charlotte guard Devonte’ Graham has produced back-to-back double-doubles with a combination of points and assists. He has been coming off the bench.

Borrego said the starting unit needs to be better at both ends of the court. That’s glaring because of some miserable first and third quarters.

Then the Hornets tend to make a charge.

“It’s a blessing and a curse in the same time,” Borrego said. “You never want to be a team that’s always in a hole.”

The Hornets have had problems in various areas.

“Not talking on defense,” Charlotte guard Malik Monk said of one of the issues.

Monk, a third-year player, racked up a career-high eight rebounds at Philadelphia.

In Sunday’s loss, the bright spot for Charlotte was Cody Zeller’s season-high 24 points on 10-for-13 shooting from the field. He has proved difficult to defend because of his mobility.

“We moved Cody around,” Borrego said. “We put him up at top. … A lot of it was done in transition.”

–Field Level Media

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