Tonight was a game that earlier in the season the Charlotte Hornets would have lost. Heck, it was a game that many expected them to lose. It fit the script of the season all too well. The Hornets played well through the first three quarters of the game and entered the fourth in the lead. Except the score was just within reaching distance of the Milwaukee Bucks. So when the Bucks went on a run, the general feeling was more of when the lead would be blown rather than if. But the Hornets held on through the entire fourth quarter, fought back every run, and managed to come out on top.
Even though the Hornets came out on top, it took every ounce of Charlotte's energy to make sure they stayed on top. The Bucks are a well coached team that plays hard every night and can steal wins from teams better than them. If the Bucks are given an inch they will take that inch and that's why the good teams don't give them that inch.
A large part of why the Bucks were so pesky was Brandon Knight. Finishing the game with 34 points, Knight couldn't be stopped no matter who was guarding him. He even hit a huge shot in the fourth quarter to pull the Bucks within striking distance in the final minute of the game. Further emphasizing Knight's impact, the next closest scorer to Knight was Khris Middelton with 12 points.
Despite Knight's big game, the Hornets had some solid outings from their players as well. Kemba Walker was incredible finishing with 27 points on 18 shots, and attempting 10 free throws. Anytime the Hornets needed a big play it was hat stepped up for them, and it was because of his big moments that the Hornets came out on top.
The Hornets also got some solid play from their bench, another area they've struggled in this season. Marvin Williams and P.J. Hairston combined for 22 points off the bench and provided some critical floor spacing while they played. But more importantly, the bench played some solid defense. While it was far from perfect, the defense was just good enough to keep the Hornets in a comfortable position. Too many times this season the bench has come in and dug the starters into a hole, they didn't do that tonight.
Of course, no victory is perfect and tonight was no different. The Hornets defense started off the game very sloppy, allowing 30 points in the first quarter and giving the Bucks way too many open shots. The rotations were slow and had the offense not kept up with the Bucks the beginning could have been much uglier. Eventually the defense balanced it self out and finished strong, but better teams than the Bucks will punish the Hornets for these slow defensive starts.
Not only did the early lineups struggle on defense early some of the starting lineups never got things together at all. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Al Jefferson, and Cody Zeller all struggled to score consistently tonight and that had a lot to do with the Bucks solid interior defense. Whenever Charlotte attacked the rim there was always a defender waiting for them to contest the shot, which led to the inconsistent scoring. The Hornets three best interior scorers struggled to get anything going and the Bucks deserve all the credit in the world for that.
It wasn't pretty but the Hornets got it done tonight. They fought for the lead and when they had it late they didn't let go. This has been a rarity from a team that is now notorious for blowing fourt quarter leads, but maybe things are finally starting to come together. The Hornets haven't beaten anybody too impressive yet during this win streak but they need to beat the teams they're supposed to beat before they can go on and challenge the tougher teams. Solid victory to give the Hornets their fourth straight victory.