Charlotte Hornets

Terrible defense drops Charlotte Hornets to 6th straight loss

Charlotte Hornets' Kemba Walker, right, goes to the basket against Chicago Bulls' Cristiano Felicio during the first half of Friday’s NBA game in Chicago.
Charlotte Hornets' Kemba Walker, right, goes to the basket against Chicago Bulls' Cristiano Felicio during the first half of Friday’s NBA game in Chicago. AP

Great as Kemba Walker was Friday in Chicago, he couldn’t close the deal.

Set up by a pick from Dwight Howard, Walker drove all the way to the rim, but his layup fell off the rim. Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen defended the play without fouling, then hit two free throws for a 123-120 victory at United Center.

Walker finished with 47 points, five short of matching his career high. He made five of nine attempts from 3-point range. This was the Hornets’ sixth consecutive loss, dropping them to 5-9.

Kris Dunn came off the bench for the Bulls, scoring a career-high 22 points, and adding seven assists and five rebounds. Not known for his shooting, Dunn made 10 of his 16 attempts from the field and was 2-of-2 from 3-point range. He also finished with three steals.

Three who mattered

Walker: This was his fifth career game of 40 or more points

Marvin Williams: He made his first three 3-point attempts, which helped spread the floor for teammates’ drives and post-ups.

Dunn: This is the sort of two-way impactful player the Minnesota Timberwolves hoped Dunn would be when they drafted him (traded to the Bulls).

Observations

▪  The Bulls came into this game last among 30 teams in both points per game and field-goal percentage (and 29th in 3-point percentage). And yet they scored 60 first-half points to go into halftime tied.

▪  Walker’s 22 first-half points weren’t close to his own franchise record -- 35 in a half against the Orlando Magic in 2014.

▪  Coach Steve Clifford pulled center Dwight Howard late in the first half. It appeared from television Howard walked away from Clifford when Clifford was still speaking during a timeout. Howard started the second half.

▪  With Treveon Graham recovered from a quad contusion, the only remaining injured Hornet Friday was point guard Julyan Stone (hamstring strain).

▪  The Hornets played just three games in 10 days, but the schedule gets busy again: Starting with the home game Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Hornets play five games in eight nights.

Worth mentioning

▪  Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist left the game with about five minutes left in the third quarter. He turned to the game in the fourth quarter after having an ankle re-taped.

▪  Howard, a 40 percent foul shooter this season, didn’t take his first free throw until 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.

▪  Hornets rookies Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon each lost the ball at mid-court on back-to-back turnovers in the first half.

Report card

B+ OFFENSE: The Hornets made 10 of 21 3-point attempts.

F DEFENSE: The Bulls are statistically the worst offensive team in the NBA this season. Hornets made them look a lot better than that.

F COACHING: Clifford said his team is playing with no identity, and pointed the finger at himself for that failing.

Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, @rick_bonnell

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