The Charlotte Hornets entered tonight's contest against the Toronto Raptors injured and tired. Missing Al Jefferson, Lance Stephenson, and Cody Zeller it appeared to be an uphill battle for the Hornets tonight. Instead they played well and managed to pull out a great win.
The Hornets were on a back to back tonight and despite that they played very well. For much of the game the Raptors did not look like a team playing with rest as the Hornets were out hustling, outrunning, and generally outplaying them.
Maybe their solid play as of late has to do with it being January? Last season the Hornets had a slow start to the year as well. While the primary reason for last year was the constant injuries to Al Jefferson, it was the month of January where he returned and things started coming together. This year, he leaves with an injury and the team starts to look better. The universe is funny like that.
Going with that solid play is the Hornets defense. Their bread and butter last year, the Hornets defense hasn't been anywhere near the levels we expect of them this season. Lately however, their defense is starting to figure things out with many moments tonight where they completely smothered the Toronto offense, especially in the third quarter.
Despite the Hornets having one of their best quarters of the season in the third, it didn't matter with yet another fourth quarter lead being brought down to single digits. It's not surprising but it's funny how the Hornets keep finding new ways to let their large leads become small leads.
Despite that, the Hornets didn't panic and slowly built their lead back up. By the time there was a minute left all the Hornets had to do was not turn the ball over, take smart shots, and make their free throws. Of course, they didn't do that and then it got close again. So what did the Hornets do? Oh Kemba Walker just hit another game winner.
A great road win for the Hornets in a tough environment.