Injured Mark Williams sits out Hornets’ loss in Chicago

What would another day be without yet another Charlotte Hornets injury?

Down one more key component since starting center Mark Williams sat out nursing a lower back contusion, the Hornets found them shorthanded as usual. And the result was much of the same in a 111-100 loss to the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on Wednesday night.

“The turnovers in the second half, I don’t know how many we had, but I felt like that was kind of how the game slipped away,” coach Steve Clifford said. “They’re good at that. I think they are like, fifth, sixth in creating turnovers. First half, I felt like we were pretty solid with it and we came out in the third quarter and the turnovers led directly to points for them, it felt like.

“We struggled to shoot the ball in the first three quarters. We may have shot the ball better there in the fourth. But I’d say the turnovers were the biggest issue.”

Here’s what else Clifford had to say about the Hornets (6-13) and where things stand:

Dec 6, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward Gordon Hayward (20) drives to the basket against the Chicago Bulls during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Charlotte Hornets forward Gordon Hayward (20) drives to the basket against the Chicago Bulls during the first half at United Center. Kamil Krzaczynski USA TODAY NETWORK

On Mark Williams’ injury

“He’s just not able to go,” Clifford said. “He got hit in the lower back in Brooklyn and got hit again against Minnesota. And he really just hasn’t been able to practice as much and hopefully he’ll take (Wednesday) off and he’ll be ready to go Friday.”

On Gordon Hayward’s performance

Gordon Hayward had 27 points against the Bulls (8-14) to lead the Hornets in scoring.

“He played well the other night, too,” Clifford said. “Shots were there, opportunities were there. He came out and made shots early.”

On PJ Washington as a reserve vs. starter

“I think with him, he’s very team-oriented and really when he says, ‘I don’t care,’ I really believe him when says it,” Clifford said. “And his minutes are basically the same. And his role hasn’t changed, it’s just when he’s in the game. He still finishes a lot of games. We’re not going to have a good season without him if he doesn’t play well. And he knows that.”

On what the team worked on in practice since losing to Minnesota

“The biggest thing is, we’ve really made good strides in a lot of areas,” Clifford said. “The other day, against a really good defensive team (in the Timberwolves), our offense was really good. We gave up 22 second-chance points and they shot 30 free throws.

“So, you’re not winning any games in this league, or really, very few games, if the other team shoots that many free throws and you give up that many second-chance points. So our guys understand. We can do a lot of good things. If you give up the amount of second-chance points that we’ve given up in the last three games, it’s going to be hard.”

On Michael Jordan’s involvement as minority owner

“He’s still involved and he’s got a lot going on obviously,” Clifford said. “He has a lot of different business ventures. He has his golf course, he has NASCAR, he has his tequila business. So he’s busy, still involved in the team, watches some of the games and is still a very good resource.”

This story was originally published December 6, 2023, 11:14 PM.

Roderick Boone joined the Observer in September 2021 to cover the Charlotte Hornets and NBA. In his more than two decades of writing about the world of sports, he’s chronicled everything from high school rodeo to a major league baseball no-hitter to the Super Bowl to the Finals. The Long Island native has deep North Carolina roots and enjoys watching “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” endlessly.
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