Charlotte needed a win badly Monday night. The team did not disappoint, defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder 116-103 for their second road win of the season.
The last few weeks have been difficult for the Hornets. The team struggled early in the year with injuries, most notably to guards Nic Batum and Michael Carter-Williams. These injuries, along with a tough early schedule, have the Hornets at a disappointing 10-16. While Carter-Williams is back, the injury bug has continually bit the team over the last several weeks. Currently the Hornets continue to be without Batum, and now Cody Zeller will be out about six weeks as he recovers from knee surgery. Coach Clifford also is out as he continues to deal with illness.
The team has been struggling on the court. Even owner Michael Jordan took time after the game Saturday night to address the team. The rumors have began to swirl that it might be time to make some trades.
The team needed this win. Hopefully this is the start of some good basketball for the purple and teal.
The starters were fantastic tonight. OKC boasts three 2017 NBA All-Stars in Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony. The offseason was (pardon the pun) buzzing over OKC’s new big three. While they had the names, tonight Charlotte had the game. Each starter for Charlotte scored at least 14 points tonight. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, already tasked with guarding 2017 NBA MVP Westbrook, was an incredible 8-9 from the field. Marvin Williams was an important 4-5 from downtown. Dwight Howard lead the team in scoring with 23 points. Team captain Kemba Walker had 19 points and 9 assists.
The team played with an intense energy from the very beginning of the game. The defense was turned up, resulting in 8 steals. Charlotte held OKC to shooting 41% from the field and 35% from three point range. Charlotte clearly wanted this game and was able to go out and get it. Treveon Graham was a bright spot off the bench with 13 points.
The third quarter was the key stretch. The teams were tied at 66 all when Charlotte went on a 28-8 run to close out the quarter. So far this year Charlotte has tended to come out slow after halftime so this was a welcome change. Coach Silas made a good decision to keep Kemba Walker in for the beginning of the third instead of subbing him for his normal rest so they could keep the momentum. For the game Charlotte shot an impressive 53% from the field and 52%(!) from the three point line.
The bench is still a mess. The second unit has a very hard time scoring. With the exception of Graham, the bench only managed to chip in a total of 13 points. Rookie Malik Monk continues to struggle, only going 1-4 from the field.
It doesn’t get any easier, as Wednesday the Hornets face the Houston Rockets, who currently have the best record in the NBA. The Hornets will need to put together another strong performance to pull out a second straight road win.