Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford reduced Lance Stephenson’s regular 26 minutes to a grand total of zero Monday night, as the visiting Boston Celtics picked up a critical 116-104 victory.
In this his first, difficult season in Charlotte, it was Stephenson’s first “DNP-CD”.
Stephenson’s playing time was split between the underwhelming trio of Jeffery Taylor, P.J. Hairston and Brian Roberts.
Per the Charlotte Observer:
Was the DNP-CD a good decision by Clifford? […] Well, given that the Hornets couldn’t guard anybody all night and lost handily at home to one of the teams they are battling with for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot, I’d have to say it was not. The combined efforts of Taylor, Hairston and Roberts could be described in one word: unimpressive.
But would Stephenson have made a significant difference? I doubt it. These Hornets (31-42) are so far afield now that, with nine games left, the completion of this lost season is only two weeks away. No way they make the playoffs.
This is how Clifford explained the decision to bench Stephenson on Monday: “I’m just obviously searching without Mike (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who is out with an injury). … I explained to (Stephenson) that I’m not saying it’s his fault at all. But we have struggled to find a group that has played well off the bench in these last few games. Jeff (Taylor) has to play with Mike out. We need a defender and an energy guy out there and he’s the best guy, the guy most like Mike. And we need shooting. … Lance was disappointed and wants to play. I give him credit. He said, ‘I know I can help the team,’ and he handled it well.” […] When I asked Stephenson after the game if the decision had upset him, he replied: “Of course. I feel like I could have helped our team. I feel like I could have helped tonight. But it’s not in my hands. I just come out every day and try to get ready for each game and stay in shape.”