Hot shooting from last minute starter Gary Neal, and a renewed defensive effort helped Charlotte overwhelm the visiting Washington Wizards 99-86. P.J. Hairston also chipped in 13 points.
Tonight's game was, yet again, available only in person and on something called the "radio". By now, we all know the Hornets are not televising these preseason games, and it would make too much sense for them to be available on your League Pass subscription so this recapper was not able to see any game action. Truth be told, this recapper couldn't even access the previous game which may or may not have been available through other sources so whatever. It's preseason.
Lance Stephenson did not play tonight because of an injured toe. Neal started in his place and played very well.
Neal scored 19 points and after the game said the team was focused on defense after the game against Philadelphia earlier in the week. Neal went on to say they tried to put their mark on the game in the opening quarter.
Charlotte did just that, holding the Wizards to 17 points while scoring 28 of their own. Another good defensive effort to start the second half had the Hornets up 23 points after three quarters, and that turned out to be enough for Charlotte to hold on. Washington made a late push to get it close, but the final margin of 13 seemed to indicate the flow of much of the game. The Hornets outscored the Wizards in each of the first three quarters before being outscored 31-21 in the fourth.
The Hornets never trailed in the game. It was a good rebound game for a team that couldn't have been happy about its performance in Philly.
Outside shooting was big for Charlotte hitting 13 three-pointers, nearly doubling the amount from the Wizards. The Hornets hit 46 percent of their shots from three.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist played the most minutes of any starter, 30 on the night. With Gerald Henderson and Stephenson out, someone had to play so it's not totally surprising to see MKG get a lot of work. But you also have to think they still want him to have as much court time as possible. He scored six points on 2-7 shooting, and hit just two of his six free throws. He did grab nine rebounds and chip in four assists, but also had four fouls in his 30 minutes.
Big Al was Big Al. Double-double, 12 and 10....ho-hum. Kemba Walker also scored in double figures, hitting 50 percent of his shots from the field for 13 points. Walker did have three turnovers against 6 assists.
Cody Zeller chipped in five points in 20 minutes off the bench, and three rebounds. Jannero Pargo scored 15 points in 17 minutes in reserve time.
It sounded, and I do mean sounded, like a good win to shake off the bad feeling from the preseason opening loss to the Sixers. Right now getting players healthy is paramount and hopefully Stephenson's injury won't keep him out too long as this team needs as much time as possible to gel on the floor. It's certainly nice to see a Charlotte team shoot well and if this team can do that consistently it will be dangerous.