Since Steve Clifford took over as head coach of the then-Charlotte Bobcats, he has dreamt of the perfect offensive game — a solid mix of Al Jefferson's post dominance with a consistent long-range attack that would keep defenses on their toes and unable to focus on one over the other. Tuesday's 130-105 blowout of the Chicago Bulls was everything that Clifford, general manager Rich Cho and the rest of the front office had been building towards for nearly two seasons now. Last season, we were told the team would be able to be a threat of deep. This season, they are living up to that statement.
Tuesday's offensive assault was a perfect blend of balance overall. Every Hornet that suited up scored seemingly at will anyway they wanted to. Charlotte — Jeremy Lamb in particular — was able to penetrate the Bulls' normally solid defense and get to the hoop whenever they wanted to. Jefferson talked with Chris Mannix yesterday about how he wished he could add the shooting range of a Chris Bosh to his game, then went out and hit five jumpers from at least 15 feet out. The team shot 14-23 of 3, good for a 60.9 percent clip and marking just the ninth time in franchise history that the team hit at least 14 3s in a game. Seven different players scored in double digits, led by Lamb's 20 off the bench. Speaking of the bench, it is worth noting that the Hornets got 71 points off theirs.
Charlotte came into the game averaging around 93 points per game through their first three contests. They had scored 100 by the end of the third quarter (the most points the Bulls had allowed through three quarters since 1990). Going back to their game Sunday against the Atlanta Hawks, the Hornets have now scored at least 30 points in five consecutive quarters.
It was the best basketball, at least offensively, that the team has arguably played since professional basketball returned to Charlotte in 2004. All night, you waited to see when the team's trademark cold streak would hit, but it never came. Tuesday night was a sign of exactly what this team is capable of.
An overlooked aspect in the domination of the Bulls was the overwhelming advantage the Hornets had on the boards. Charlotte outrebounded Chicago 52-33 and held the Bulls to just four offensive boards, which is particularly impressive when you remember that the team lost its best rebounder in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist before the season even started.
The victory is all the more valuable when you look at the Hornets' upcoming schedule. After starting the season off against Eastern Conference playoff favorites Miami, Atlanta and Chicago, Charlotte now hits the road in four of their next five games, which includes contests against San Antonio, Dallas and a Chicago team that will surely have revenge on their minds.