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Hornets turn the page and take on Pacers

Nov 12, 2022; Miami, Florida, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (1) controls the ball against the Miami Heat during the first half at FTX Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Finally emerging from a long losing streak, the Charlotte Hornets will host the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night hoping to get rolling in the right direction.

“We’ve easily had stretches where we’ve had very good, sometimes exceptional play, and then we have times (when) we don’t execute,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. “We’re not that kind of team. We can be very good, but we can’t give possessions away. We don’t have that much room for error.”

The Hornets returned from three games in Florida with their first victory in November to snap an eight-game losing streak, their longest skid since 2019 and one shy of a wrong-way stretch of November 2014.

That’s among the positive aspects they’ll take into the game with Indiana. It will be the home debut for point guard LaMelo Ball, something that’s bound to bring a buzz to the arena.

Ball has played the past two games after missing the first 13 following a preseason ankle injury. His presence in Monday night’s 112-105 victory at Orlando was notable — he had 17 points and nine assists — and at least partly accounted for the Hornets putting seven players in double-figure scoring.

The Hornets have to recognize what worked and aim to repeat parts of that, Clifford said.

“The whole challenge in this thing is having a way to play and commit to it, regardless of what the score is,” he said. “That’s what the good teams do. There’s no reason we can’t do that.”

The Pacers have won five of their past seven games. They’re hitting the road after a 3-1 homestand, but they haven’t played since defeating the Toronto Raptors on Saturday.

“Our whole group learned how important it is to be unselfish offensively,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said.

Buddy Hield led Indiana with 22 points in the 118-104 win over the Raptors, and backcourt mate Tyrese Haliburton had 15 assists, giving him double-digit assists in eight of the team’s 12 games.

“The game is a flowing game,” Carlisle said. “When you have point guards like ours that can make those calls and trigger our team into quick actions, we’re going to play better and we’re going to be more unpredictable.”

It has helped to have Myles Turner excelling in the post for Indiana. He’s averaging 21.5 points and 10 rebounds in four November games.

“I love his consistency,” Carlisle said. “He’s just doing the simple repeatable things that put him in position to play well and help his team. … I think he’s doing it on both sides of the ball. I like his vibe. He’s doing everything about team.”

For the Hornets, defensive breakdowns have been a problem, as they cope with unfamiliar combinations on the court. So there’s the notion that stressing personal responsibility might help.

“Good individual defense, more tied together, more guys determined to keep the ball in front of them,” Clifford said, describing what he’s looking for.

It’s also a matter of doing more on the boards to finish possessions on defense. Orlando pulled in 22 offensive rebounds in Monday night’s game.

–Field Level Media