The Hornets used a strong first half, scoring 69 points, to open up a 22 point halftime lead. Scoring came in a variety of ways, with all 13 active players scoring tonight.
Charlotte shot a remarkable 51.6 percent from the field and 60.9 percent from the 3-point line. At one point in the first half, they had made 70 percent of their shots and 78 percent of their 3-point attempts.
While it was only the fourth game of the season, it was important the Hornets picked up their first win with a West Coast roadtrip looming.
P.J. Hairston remained the starter a day after the team decided not to pick up his player option. He responded well, scoring eight first half points, and finishing with 10 for the game on 3-for-5 shooting in just 19 minutes of play.
Ball movement and high percentage shots were the focus early on. Instead of settling for 3-pointers, the Hornets attacked the basket, with Al Jefferson getting early touches and scoring with ease against Pau Gasol. Jefferson would finish with 14 points in 21 minutes.
Nicolas Batum played late in the first quarter, and scored his first seven points off of free throws. He made good decisions with the basketball, and finished with 18 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and only one turnover. For the game, the Hornets only committed nine turnovers, a nice change from their previous games.
There was a scary moment in the first quarter, when Joakim Noah inadvertently elbowed Cody Zeller hard on the forehead, causing a stream of blood to pour onto the court. Zeller would leave the game, get eight stitches, and return in the third quarter, because Zeller is not fazed by having his face split open.
While Zeller was out, the Hornets got an extended look at Frank Kaminsky, who was able to bank in a 3-pointer and provide solid rebounding, finishing with six points and three rebounds for the game. While only shooting 2-for-6, Kaminsky took high percentage, open shots, which should start to fall as the season goes on.
The Hornets started the second half strong, scoring six straight points capped off by a Batum coast-to-coast layup. Jefferson continued to punish Gasol, and the Hornets extended on an already large lead.
The Bulls managed to cut the lead to 17 late in the third quarter, but five straight points by Jeremy Lin, including a banked 3-pointer at the end of the quarter, pushed the lead back out to 22. Lin would finish with 15 points, five rebounds, and four assists in 18 minutes.
Lin's strong finish to the quarter ended any chance of the Bulls making a run, and the fun continued into the fourth quarter, with the team scoring at will, pushing their lead up to 33 at one point. Tyler Hansbrough saw action on his birthday, and got a huge ovation from the crowd when he scored on his first attempt.
There were plenty of great performances tonight, but Jeremy Lamb stood out. Fresh off signing a three year, $21 million contract, Lamb put in his best performance since joining the Hornets, finishing with 20 points on 9-for-10 shooting. Lamb took a lot of tough shots, but made it look easy, and scored both at the rim and from the outside. It's only one game, but Lamb started to earn his new contract tonight. His quick release and first step, along with his length, gives him an advantage over many defenders. Tonight, he played with a smoothness that was pleasing to watch.
Lamb stood out, but it was a total team effort that proved most effective. No player played more than 28 minutes, and seven Hornets scored in double figures. The team looked very in-sync, and as the shots started falling their confidence grew on the defensive end. When they cooled off for stretches in the third quarter, they prevented the Bulls from making a significant run at the lead, which allowed them to put the game away for good once the shots started falling again.
This was the best answer to three frustrating losses to start the season. With a Western Conference road trip starting on Thursday, the Hornets needed to find rhythm. They found that tonight, and hopefully they can take the momentum gained tonight with them out west.