The Chicago Bulls were heading into the Spectrum Center having lost their last five games. Their most recent was an embarrassing offensive output against the Celtics. Leave it to the Hornets to get the Bulls back on track and allow the Bulls to tally 115 points — Chicago is 26th in the league in points per game.
The Hornets saw a couple of changes to their rotation with Batum being scratched from the starting lineup and Frank Kaminsky seeing his first action since his injury in Phoenix. In place on Nic, we saw Lamb inserted into his place and he played extremely well. He finished with a team high 26 points and grabbed 4 rebounds. He’s done a good job this season in spot starts and makes you wonder if Batum becomes expendable. Not saying that Lamb is better than Batum by any stretch, but Lamb has shown glimpses of his capability. Without Batum, the offense runs much differently. Zeller, who pairs very well with Batum, didn’t look himself on the offensive end. This was partly due to how Chicago was defending him. Lopez sagged far off of Cody daring him to shoot the midrange shot. He’s been unable to knock down this shot with any consistency and this should give other teams a blueprint on how to defend Zeller. But, I also believe that without Batum, Zeller really only has one other player, in Kemba, to involve with the pick and roll. It was still a part of his game tonight but didn’t feel like it had the same effectiveness.
The Bulls, who have struggled on the offensive end this season, came out hot in the first quarter. Rajon Rondo scored his first nine points of the game on 3 consecutive three-point baskets. He scored 11 points in the first quarter and led the Bulls to 36 points — more than they scored in the entire first half against the Celtics. The Hornets, or should I say, Kemba kept it close heading into half. He scored Charlotte’s last 8 points of the second period and that momentum carried over in the beginning of the third.
In the second half, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist came out strong. He was hustling after loose balls, rebounds, and getting up and down the court. He scored in a multitude of ways — transition offense, slashing the paint, and even hit one from midrange to spark the home team’s offense in the beginning of the third quarter. But in the end it was too many defensive breakdowns leading to buckets from Butler, Wade, and Mirotic down the stretch. The Hornets traded baskets toward the end of the game, but couldn’t get the stops they needed.
It’s another loss for the Hornets but should be a blessing in disguise. Most fans have held out hope that Charlotte could push for a playoff spot but in the end, that will do more harm than good.