During the summer, a popular debate in the basketball community was who boasted the NBA's best backcourt. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan had a big claim to that throne based on the end of last season. On Thursday night in Toronto, however, it was the Hornets backcourt that shined bright.
In what was easily the biggest win of the season for Charlotte, the duo of Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson combined for 60 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists (eight from Kemba), and only two turnovers, both from Henderson.
Both players were given the green light to attack at will for a Hornets squad that's currently decimated by injuries -- only nine Charlotte players dressed, with Al Jefferson out as usual and Cody Zeller being a late scratch. And attack they did.
I've admittedly been critical at times of Henderson's propensity for over-dribbling and shooting contested, inefficient mid-range jumpers. On Thursday night, he was as good as I've ever seen him. He wasn't settling for his jumper, although it was falling. Instead, he was taking the ball with a purpose to the basket and posting up inferior defenders when the right match-up came.
He's certainly making things more interesting for when Lance Stephenson comes back -- Hendo has made a case recently that he deserves the starting spot, period. Will that challenge Lance in a good way, or will it further tailspin what has seemed like a sensitive situation?
The Hornets were led by their two captains, but also had solid play from the rest of the team. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist drove the ball well and played his usual great defense, and Marvin Williams hit a couple of huge 3-pointers at the end of the game. For as much skepticism Hornets fans had about essentially replacing Josh McRoberts with Marvin Williams, he has been fantastic for Charlotte the last couple of weeks.
The Hornets showed some impressive resilience -- after such a tough start to the season, with half the team injured including your All-NBA center, on a back-to-back against one of the league's best teams and toughest places to play -- it would have been easy, almost understandable, for them to waive the white flag on the night.
But they didn't, and got their fourth-straight victory. Now they play a struggling New York Knicks squad early Saturday afternoon. If they get a win there, they could conceivably just be two wins out of the eighth playoff seed.
The Hornets also started off slow last season before turning it on and making an improbable playoff run. Could Thursday night be the night we pinpoint in a couple of months that the Hornets truly turned things around and got momentum? Kemba Walker will sure try to make that happen, even if it requires a nightly game-winner.