The Charlotte Hornets won 123-99 over the Memphis Grizzles. It's significant for a couple reasons -- the Hornets hadn't won in Memphis since 2010, and they started the game down 10-0, playing with no energy, and letting Memphis score with ease in the paint. And despite that, they won by 24. Here's what stood out.
Walker and Batum played like All-Stars
Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum were dialed in on offense tonight, combining for 53 points. Walker finished with 33 points on 12-19 shooting, to go with six assists, and five rebounds, with 13 of his points came in the first quarter alone. As the Hornets struggled to find offense, Walker went into hero ball mode, scoring off aggressive attacks at the rim, and pull-up jumpers. His efforts jumpstarted the offense, and despite trailing by as much as 14 in the first quarter, the Hornets managed to trim the deficit to six by the end of it.
Batum got hot in the second half, scoring 11 of his 20 points in the 3rd quarter. He hit two consecutive 3-pointers, which, followed by Walker's made 3-point shots, extended the lead out of Memphis' reach. What I loved most was how aggressive Batum was shooting the ball. It was a different kind of Batum from the one we watched Wednesday night -- scoring the ball was the focus Friday night, while creating for others was his focus on Wednesday. I've said this over and over, but these different versions of Batum show just how dynamic he is.
Defense was the key to the run
While Walker and Batum were heating up on offense, it was the stellar defense by the team that prevented the game from being a back-and-forth affair. Memphis was down only six before Charlotte prevented them from scoring on six consecutive shot attempts. When Memphis finally did hit a shot they were down by 14. Runs start when both sides of the ball are in top gear, and that was the case for the Hornets in the 3rd quarter.
Once again, Charlotte's shooting from behind the arc was superb. Making 18-37, the Hornets shot better from the 3-point line than the Grizzles team did as a whole. Walker and Batum each hit five 3's, and Jeremy Lin added two.
Speaking of Lin...
What a nice game from him tonight. Lin finished with 16 points, and scored the ball well in the first half. He looked much more confident in his jumpshot, and his decision making was good. As well as Walker and Batum played (and I can't emphasize that enough) it was Lin who finished with the highest plus/minus of the night at +25.