Of course, Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford was upset Friday about losing a sixth consecutive game, particularly so early in the season.

However, what really concerned him was not recognizing the group the Hornets assembled for this season. To use Clifford’s word, they lacked an "identity": a way to play they could count on game after game that makes for winning.

I asked Clifford before Saturday’s 102-87 home victory over the Los Angeles Clippers what that identity should be.

"If you look at our team, (to succeed) we have to be a terrific defensive team and a great rebounding team," Clifford replied. "We’re not, and that’s my job. The players always have a responsibility, too, but" ultimately it’s his responsibility.

For the first time in Clifford’s four-plus seasons in Charlotte, I thought his job might be in jeopardy. They were horrible Friday, giving up 123 points to a Chicago Bulls team that is statistically the worst offensively in the NBA.

That was the fifth time in the six-game losing streak the Hornets allowed 108 or more points. Their defensive efficiency ranking seemed to be plummeting.

This runs totally counter to what Clifford envisions as solid basketball: To him, the imperatives are low-turnover, low-foul and a commitment to getting back every defensive possession. Those back-to-back midcourt turnovers by rookies Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon Friday were eye-rolling bad.