Nicolas Batum recorded a triple-double Wednesday night against Miami Heat. It was the fifth of his career, and the first as a member of the Charlotte Hornets. I say first, because with the way Batum and the rest of the Hornets are playing right now, it's likely Batum will get additional opportunities to earn another.
Surprisingly, scoring in double figures would be the final statistic needed to earn the triple-double. It was reflective of his night, and of just how effective he can be even when his shots aren't falling.
Batum started 1-5 from the field in the 1st quarter, with his only made shot coming on a 3-pointer early in the quarter. With his shot not falling, he focused on creating for others, earning six assists in the quarter to go along with four rebounds. Racking up six of his eleven assists this early likely made the difference in earning the triple-double, but from a team standpoint, it created shots for four different Hornets -- Kemba Walker, Cody Zeller, Jeremy Lin, and Frank Kaminsky. Finding four different teammates can help the team get into a rhythm, and it showed by the end of the quarter, as the Hornets lead by 10.
Batum added two more assists in the second quarter, assisting Walker and Jeremy Lamb. He grabbed three rebounds, but didn't attempt a shot, scoring only off a pair of free throws, suggesting that he was dialed in to making plays for others, rather than taking the shots himself.
In the third quarter, Batum picked up two more assists, finding P.J. Hairston and Zeller. The assist to Hairston came with the first made shot of the third quarter, and helped set the tone for the rest of the quarter, as the Hornets built on their 20 point lead.
Heading into the fourth, Batum only needed two points. He did it in style, scoring on an alley-oop courtesy of a great feed from Lin:
TRIPLE-DOUBLE FOR BATUM https://t.co/p6iFA7nKmt— Spencer Percy (@QCHspencer) December 10, 2015
Batum's night was done after that, but his impact had made the difference long before. Despite a poor shooting night, Batum was the most effective player on the floor, finishing with a plus/minus of +22, the highest of the night. He's arguably the most important player for the Hornets, because he can affect the game in other ways beyond his scoring. He's the first option for the Hornets, not because he's their best scorer (although the case could be made he is) but because he can create for others, and Wednesday night showed just that.
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