Hornets coach Steve Clifford: Lance Stephenson ‘not close to being in rhythm with his game’

10 Comments

NEW YORK — Lance Stephenson was the big free agent acquisition for the Charlotte Hornets this summer, but he was benched for the entire fourth quarter of his second game with the team due to his early ineffectiveness.

The Hornets dropped a low-coring contest to the Grizzlies on Saturday, and while Stephenson grabbed eight rebounds and dished out four assists, he committed three turnovers and was just 1-of-6 shooting in 26 minutes of action.

But despite the slow start, Charlotte head coach Steve Clifford is preaching patience.

“I think that the one misnomer is this: he’s 23 years old and developing into a good player,” Clifford said, before his Hornets tipped things off against the Knicks on Sunday. “You know, we got Al Jefferson last year, and Al had been 20 [points] and 10 [rebounds] for 10 years. You knew what you were going to get. Lance averaged 13 a game last year. I watched all their playoff games, he was probably their fourth guy that they went to. So this is new for him.

“As many similarities as there are [between what the Pacers did and what the Hornets do] defensively, there are things that are different offensively. That’ll take some time, and plus, he’s not close to being in rhythm with his game. He missed a lot of time in preseason [due to a groin injury].

“We had a good talk today, he knows where he’s at, and I think we have to be patient and let him progress at a speed that makes sense for all of us.”