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Hornets blowout Denver at home

Charlotte looked strong tonight in the first of three straight home games. The Hornets made slight work of a Nuggets team that didn’t look ready to play in a 110-93 waxing.

Frank Kaminsky led the Hornets with 20 points (9-15 FG), 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Frank was impressive all night. Being aggressive looking for shot without forcing things, driving past closeouts and creating for teammates and punishing smaller defenders in ISO situations.

Malik Monk had his best game so far as a rookie, tossing in 17 points (7-14 FG) in 25 min. Monk still hasn’t found the stroke from behind the arc yet this season (3-9 tonight), but he’s doing a nice job of running the second unit and limiting mistakes as Charlotte awaits for their backcourt to regain its health.

Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb and Dwight Howard all had solid games for the starting unit. Kemba finished with 19 points – most of those coming late in the game and from the charity stripe, where Kemba finished 9-9. Lamb continued his strong play to start the season in what increasingly seems to be a breakout season for him – he finished with 16 points (4-6 FG, 3-4 3FG) and 5 assists. Dwight Howard had 15 points (4-7 FG, 7-11 FT) and 19 rebounds – as badly as the past few seasons have gone for D12, he never lost his prowess on the glass and early this season he’s right at the top of the league in rebounding.

The defense was on full display for the Hornets tonight as they held Denver to 38.5% from the floor and consistently ran the Nuggets off the three-point line, where they finished 8-31 (25.8%). Offensive rebounds (10) kept Denver in the game in the first half, but Charlotte made the adjustment at halftime and ended up just losing the overall rebounding battle 50-49. Until Zeller returns, the Hornets will continue to heavily depend on D12 on the glass.

Positives

First, the defense. Charlotte sported a 90.6 defensive rating against a Nuggets team that was hyped on the offensive end going into the season. Denver has been far from that juggernaut through four games. The Hornets did a fantastic job of helping and recovering, consistently chasing shooters off the three-point line and funneling them towards the D12 tower. Tonight was a classic Clifford ball showcase on the defensive end of the floor.

The bench gave Charlotte a huge boost in the first half with 36 of the Hornets 61 total at the break. They outscored Denver 36-8 in bench scoring in the first half. The second unit ended up contributing 49 total points on the evening – a number that will be more than good enough on most night’s.

Frank Kaminsky. He was phenomenal for most of the game and represented all the hype we’ve heard about the versatile 7-footer over the past three years.

I mean, seriously, who’s mans is dis?

Malik Monk showed it all off in this win. He’s gotten off to a slow start during the regular season, but tonight was a huge step in the right direction. Managing the second unit, flaunting the quick trigger the Nuggets team that didn’t care to respect it and even flash his athleticism at the rim.

Jamal Murray wasn’t ready for it. Head shot and you gone.

The Hornets won’t get this type of play from their reserves every night, but the positive signs we saw from the youngsters tonight is a boost to their confidence and should give Clifford some ease in playing them big minutes while Charlotte continues to thirst for healthy bodies.

Precisely.

Negatives

Don’t want to harp on too much here. For one, there isn’t much, and secondly, let’s just enjoy this one.

Denver pulled down 17 offensive rebounds (10 in first half) and it led to 22 second chance points for Denver. A number of those came from hideous misses that turned into long rebounds, but nonetheless, Clifford won’t be happy with that number. Again, Charlotte needs someone else not named Dwight Howard to step up on the glass.

52 points in the paint tonight for Denver. Again, much of this had to do with those second chances. It’s still too much.

Number to Know

14

Charlotte only committed 14 total turnovers tonight. A much better mark than the first three games and can still be improved even more. D12 had 7 of the Hornets 14 turnovers tonight, and as good as he’s been to start the season, he really must value the ball more for this team to reach its ceiling.

Looking Ahead

The Hornets stay at home and welcome in Houston on Friday night at 7pm. The Rockets will be without Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza, so it will be a more vulnerable group than the one that might compete with Golden State for the western conference crown. Charlotte remains at home to round out the weekend when they host a surprisingly hot Orlando team on Sunday at 6pm.

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