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Report: Clifford needs Hairston's defense to improve

Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford starting P.J. Hairston at small forward in the first game of the season against Miami and if he wants to keep the job his defense needs to improve. From Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer:

    "Asked about starting P.J. Hairston at small forward, Clifford said he was pleased for the most part with Hairston’s defense, mostly on Miami’s Dwyane Wade. 'I thought he did well. He made one mistake in the first half on Gerald Green where he gave him some space. But I felt like he played with discipline. We need someone who can guard primary scorers and he did a good job on Wade.' Clifford is trying not to make Nicolas Batum constantly guard the opposing team’s best scorer since Batum has so much responsibility offensively. 'A lot of good players don’t guard the other team’s best player until the fourth quarter,' Clifford said. 'Wade has done that most of his career and we did that with Tracy (McGrady) in Houston. Hopefully as P.J. goes on, he can (guard the other team’s top scorer) in the fourth quarter, too.'"

Hairston played only 18 minutes on Wednesday and finished with a -7 for the +/- category. Hairston may keep the starting spot for a while, however his minutes will stay low until he becomes a better defender.