The Charlotte Hornets caught the Chicago Bulls the night after they learned again that their point guard and leader Derrick Rose will require surgery on his torn meniscus. When a team’s leader is out, that’s generally a good time to ramp up the defense. The Hornets did just that on Wednesday night.
The Hornets held the Bulls to 44.2% shooting, including a 3-17 mark from the 3-point line. The Bulls boast one of the best frontcourts in the NBA, but the Hornets did their best to limit Chicago to just one shot on each possession down the stretch. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller specifically were great defensively in the second half to help the Hornets expand their lead.
New Hornet Mo Williams had a rough first half, only scoring two points and racking up two fouls that took him out of the game early. However, he came out aggressive in the second half and scored 13 of his 17 points to give the Hornets a much needed offensive boost. The Hornets’ offense has been ugly most of the season, but there were moments of high efficiency with Williams running the offense, Zeller continuing his Josh McRoberts-facilitator impression, and Kidd-Gilchrist just being everywhere.
Speaking of Kidd-Gilchrist, between his All-NBA-caliber defense, his improved jumpshot, and new confidence and aggression, he was the best player on the floor Wednesday night. On an evening where leadership was a buzz word in Chicago thanks to the Rose news, Kidd-Gilchrist – along with Mo Williams and Al Jefferson – provided it to a team that needed to break out of a losing streak.
The Hornets schedule eases up over the next week, starting with a trip to Boston on Friday evening. After that they’ll face the Magic on the road, Lakers at home, and Nets on the road. That’s four straight games against teams with losing records. The Hornets will need to use momentum from this big road win to create a win streak if they want to get back into the playoff mix.