The grand experiment in Charlotte is off to a very rocky start — the Hornets (4-12) have played well below pre-season expectations, and are riding an ugly seven-game losing streak.
To make matters worse, free agent acquisition Lance Stephenson now finds himself in head coach Steve Clifford’s doghouse.
Born Ready has been benched in the fourth quarter of the past two games, and Clifford called out the 24-year old swingman Wednesday night following a 105-97 defeat to the visiting Portland Trail Blazers.
Per the Charlotte Observer:
Asked about not playing these past two fourth quarters, Stephenson replied, “Hey it’s the coach’s decision. If he doesn’t play me in the fourth I’m just going to continue to work hard and do what it takes to win. Other than that I think I’m good. We just need to work harder. […] Hopefully coach figures out what we need to do to win games.”
“To be fair, and I’ve said this to him, one of the things that’s made it more difficult for him is he came here and people proclaimed him this next superstar,” Clifford said.
“He’s a talented kid. He’s 23 years old. He started two years and averaged 13 points a game. When Al Jefferson came here he’d averaged 19 and 10 for eight years. You knew what you were going to get. That’s what Lance needs to become. So in many ways it’s not fair. […] He’s not a star; he’s a guy who has the talent to be a star. To be a star in this league you’ve got to do this over years.”