Taurean Prince only scored three points in the first half of this game. And I’m pretty sure I know the reason. It’s not because Prince’s teammates were hogging all the shots, or because Prince had a near-fatal hair mishap in the locker room right before tipoff. No. It was because Coach Budenholzer TOLD him to not score in the first half, so that the game would become out of reach for the Hawks more quickly. It was a tanking strategy. Why would you have your second-best scorer taking shots and probably keeping the game close when you could artifically limit his scoring ability?
Coach Bud knew that the Hornets were perfectly capable of losing this game. The Hawks are bad, but the Hornets aren’t that great either. All it would take is a hot shooting performance from Prince in the first half to accidentally start the third quarter with a six-point lead. Instead, the Hawks started the second half down eight, and Prince only made one more field goal in the entire third quarter. He took Coach Bud’s tanking strategy and AMPLIFIED it. Then he scored 16 points in the final period when the game was out of reach.
In case you’re wondering, yes, I have emailed this explanation directly to Adam Silver and I am awaiting his response.